According to Marshall Poe, drinking in college has more positives than negatives.
“Rowdy drinking is not the problem. It is an essential, ineradicable, and largely positive element of American college culture. The problem is students who cannot or will not engage in rowdy drinking safely, for they often harm themselves and others.”
How is drinking a positive? According to Poe, it fosters community at the University of Iowa and many other American universities.
“For most students and alumni, rowdy drinking is considered essential to becoming a Hawkeye. …It may well constitute some of the glue that holds said package together. At Iowa and in American colleges throughout the nation, getting tight and acting silly with your classmates is a rite of passage. It is self-imposed hazing writ large. Like any initiation ritual, it comes at a price…In the vast majority of cases, however, that price is low: hangovers, poor grades, and fines. If you make it through — and almost everyone does — then you will have become a different person and be welcomed into a vast, eternal community. You will have earned the right to reminisce about your eventful days in Iowa City, to warn your children with a wink not to do the things you did, and to bask in the glory of being a Hawkeye.”
Drinking in college is certainly a risky behavior. Public health offical should examine their efforts to stop college drinking in two parts: 1) what is the net impact of college drinking, and 2) will public health officials/college administrators be able to stop it. On the first count, public health officials generally only focus on the cot of drinking and not the benefits (i.e., hedonistic pleasure, comradery). On the second count, it seems like health efforts will only have a marginal effect on drinking.
Instead of demonizing college drinking, let’s focus on helping those who truly have a drinking problem, and let college kids who drink (relatively) responsibly have their fun.
- Hat Tip: Wilson Quarterly.