The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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U should accept drinking on campus as inevitable

By John, Stafford

Incidents this fall concerning on-campus drinking such as the unconscious student found in the Sage Point Residence Halls and the Tasing of an intoxicated student at Crimson Nights show the problems and the administrative reaction it precipitates.

It is important for the U to take measures to curb binge drinking for the sake of student health and well-being, but the administration’s focus seems to be misplaced. Fighting on-campus drinking purely by force has succeeded only in driving it underground in a way similar to that of the Prohibition era. The U must instead look toward ideas that are concerned with the root of the problem and take measures to increase student safety.

The adverse health risks of binge drinking and its level of abuse by the college demographic are startling. According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, nearly one in four full-time students nationwide met the medical threshold for substance abuse or dependence.

However, the Prohibition era has proven to us the impossibility of eliminating drinking by means of the law alone. Instead, the U and local law enforcement must implement more nonconventional means such as education, prevention and treatment.

The susceptibility of the college demographic to drinking-related automotive accidents has caused schools such as former No. 1 nationally ranked party school University of Colorado at Boulder to implement a free campus shuttle8212;known there as “night ride”8212;to deter driving under the influence.

At Clemson University, a similar service that carries 700 to 1,500 passengers on an average weekend has reduced tickets for driving under the influence by 45 percent, according to Clemson Area Transit General Manager Al Babinicz.

“Night ride is great,” said David Kizer, a former Clemson University student. “Students are going to drink, you can’t stop that. It’s nice to have a free ride option to persuade kids not to drive home when last call comes or they leave a party.”

In 2007, Utah had 51 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities. Of that number, 16 were under the age of 21. A free ride service could help to reduce this number and make the U’s campus and surrounding areas safer, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

In the end, it all comes down to individual accountability, awareness and education. It is inevitable that a number of students will drink on campus. We need to make sure that students know when to say when and know when it is necessary to contact medical help if somebody takes it too far. A university orientation that includes this sort of information is a good starting point.

When I left for the U, my father sent me off with this pearl of wisdom: “Have a good time, but don’t be too much of a dumbass.”

For anyone who decides to drink, this translates to knowing your limits and being aware beforehand of situations that could get you in trouble, in terms of both safety and legality. Drinking in college, whether you agree with it or not, is about as proven of a cliché as you can find. Writing tickets and “cracking down” is not going to stop it. Instead, assessing possible dangerous situations, such as drinking and driving, and taking steps toward preventing those situations from occurring, both individually and collectively, is the key to ensure it is done as safely as possible.

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