drug abuse at house party with smokeI’ve been following that University of Virginia case where the lacrosse player was accused of killing his girlfriend. It sounds like alcohol was a major factor. Do you think this might help draw attention to problem drinking on campuses around the country?”

You’d hope so, because there’s a lot to be concerned about. My inbox this morning held the results of the latest round of surveys – something like 1800 deaths and 600,000 injuries every year, related to alcohol abuse among college- age kids.

I recalled a banner on the front of a liquor store across from a local undergrad institution: A colorful beer company logo accompanied by the legend, in gigantic letters, “Get Your School Supplies Here!”

A while back I attended a meeting of a task force on drinking at the small college in our town. Not a big-time party school, but there were plenty of incidents at off-campus parties that drew the attention of local police. The discussion was vigorous, with many expressions of concern for the welfare of the students, yet it seemed to me that every reasonable suggestion for reducing alcohol use was quickly shot down by the college administration.

I mentioned this to one of the alumni leaders. “Well, they’re afraid the college will get a rep as anti- drinking,” he confessed. “Then nobody will want to come here.”

Hmmm. That sounds like a conflicting agenda.

I think I get it. Kids want to go to college in part because of the opportunities to drink. The colleges understand that, and even in some ways encourage it. But they don’t want anybody going to jail or driving drunk or tumbling off a frat house roof.

Gotcha. All I can say is, good luck with that, folks. People have been trying to control the behavior of drunks for centuries.

I’m not a prohibitionist. I know that despite the laws prohibiting it, the average American kid has his/her first alcoholic drink between the ages of 12-15. I certainly did.

But seriously: if the culture remains the same, can we reasonably expect the kids to change?


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