The Answer to the Drinking Problem: More Alcohol (Amendum)

4:43 PM Marcellino DAmbrosio 0 Comments

            I wrote the following note two years ago, and posted it on facebook, generating some heavily contencious arguments. I’ve decided to add to my previous commentary. If you have read my note already, feel free to skip to my Amendum.

The Answer To the Drinking Problem: More Alcohol
Under Age Drinking on Ave Maria’s campus, as many of you know, has been the subject of much contention, probably more so than at most other Universities. As an RA, I am charged with enforcing the University’s zero tolerance policy. I am supposed to actively pursue and write up any underage student if they are in possession of alcohol, if they are consuming alcohol, or if they consumed alcohol a year ago at a new year’s party and someone put their picture up on facebook. I have been present when several students were written up, and more often than not it looks something like the following:

                Five freshmen are drinking Natty Light (little better than fermented urine) in their dorm room. At first, they where very paranoid and careful, but after they littered their floor with crushed aluminum cans, the atmosphere unavoidable grew conspicuously loud. At about two in the morning one of these amateurs decides to go out for a smoke. He walks down the hall to the elevator, and one of the—let us call them “concerned citizens”—smells the alcohol on our freshman as he passes by, and immediately goes to the RA on duty. This RA marches up to the room, inserts his proverbial badge into the keycard reader and busts into the room with his pen and paper ready. This is the first time he has ever been in this room, and does not know the students names, so he must ask each of them to produce their student ID’s. The next day they will have to talk to the RD and the Dean of students, and will all be handed major infractions.
After once such incident, I supported one of these freshmen while he stumbled through the bushes wrenching his guts out, a deed which, might I add, neither the concerned citizen, nor the RA had thought to perform, and got him all the way up the stairs to his dorm room. While I threw his covers over his still fully dressed body—there is really only so far one’s charity can go—he said something to me that really struck me. He grabbed my hand and slurred: “I’ve really shtupid Marshy, I’ve been really dumb, but I definitely learned my lesshon this time, didn’t I.” I asked him what lesson that was, thinking that he was about to rebuke his deeds of drunken debauchery by way of a philosophical discourse. He would probably quote Aquinas on how Reason and Will constitute the human spirit, and possibly throw in a passage from the Confessions for good measure.

                I guess I was just a little too optimistic.

                “I learned my lesshion,” he said, “I’m never drinking on campush ever again!”
One semester later, this same student was written up for being in a picture that was posted on facebook in which he held up a profane gesture to the camera along with a red cup filled with foamy yellow liquid—probably more fermented piss.
                Bravo Ave Maria! You’ve done it again, RA’s and Concerned Citizens! It looks like our policy and has effectively taught this student two life changing lessons. One, don’t drink on campus, and two, when you are drinking off campus, don’t take pictures of yourself and put them on facebook. Brilliant. AMU has succeeded in changing lives and fulfilled her mission once again. Forgive my sarcasm, but it seems to me like the Universities zero tolerance enforcement has really only succeeded in perpetuating the same issue that plagues every collage campus in America.
                The law of this country deems eighteen the age of adulthood. Eighteen year olds are old enough to get married, start a family, and die in battle. Yet, these same adults, who can be sentenced to death under our judicial system, are not deemed old enough to make a reasonable decision about alcohol. Apparently they can’t be trusted to have a beer while sitting in a booth at Chilies or the English Pub, or in any other controllable and supervised public area for that matter. So, therefore, all 18 to 20 year olds decided to follow the law and stop drinking.
 They drink in private, remote locations where they are less likely to be caught, or they “pre-game.” They get as drunk as they possibly can as fast as they possibly can, and then go out to the dance or the concert, totally wasted and uncontrolled. The climate that surrounds underage drinking is in many ways analogous to the prohibition culture of the 20’s. The code words remind one of speakeasies, while the rum runners and bathtub gin remind one of our keggers and pre-gaming. Just like in the 20’s, those who drink outside of the law’s peramiters are much more likely to abuse alcohol. According to a study published in the National Academies Press, 90% of the alcohol consumed by the 18-20 age group is consumed by individuals engaged in binge drinking. That is a frightening statistic, especially when considering that underage drinking is so socially acceptable.
                It is time to face the facts my friends. The drinking age is not working. Heavy enforcement of the drinking age results in the opposite of its intended effect. Just like last time around, instead of encouraging responsible use and respect of alcohol, prohibition drives drinkers further and further away from any concept of moderation. The only way to solve the drinking problem—and there is a problem—is not through strict enforcement of pseudo-prohibition. It didn’t work in the twenties, and it doesn’t work now. The answer to this issue is education. By education, I don’t mean the pithy, overly dramatic drunk driving videos shown in public school health classrooms. The education I speak of is a hands on, experiential. What I would like to suggest is, quite frankly, more frequent drinking. More frequent drinking within the home, more frequent drinking at family dinner, more frequent drinking at church functions. We will teach our children this subject, like any good parents, just as we teach them everything else: By example.
The response to the current problem, then, is more drinking: More drinking, within the home, moderated by the teachers given by God.

            In amendum, with a few more years of experience, disillusionment, and after quitting my RA job, I’ve decided to add another proposition to my previous post. So, in celebration of Sebastian Hall’s two new RD’s, Edward Heffernan and Travis Spier, I extend the following comment:
            It seems to that it is not uncurious that Ave Maria, along with Franciscan, Benedictine, and every other real Catholic school takes the enforcement of state law far more seriously than state schools. Now that just seems stupid.

            I ask you:
            Why do we make it a moral imperative to stop legal adults from drinking when we have so many more pressing laws that need similar enforcement, such as the Florida State Law which prohibits anyone from cutting hair outside of a legally licensed salon or barbershop? It is appalling to see such blatant disregard for the law as when one stumbles into Goretti Lobby to see Joe Bouchey mauling Joel Arranda’s head with a pair of clippers—that he no doubt bought in a dark alley deal behind Publix. How can we allow such illicit acts at our beloved University when we profess to “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s?”

Joe Bouchey, you belong in jail my friend, along Kevin Doran, who broke four dishes in the cafeteria last Thursday (the legal limit for dish breaking in Florida is only three). But don’t worry, you ought to be accompanied by Jessica Plate, who was seen “throwing her hands up in the air sometimes” and singing “Ehy oh, baby let’s go” at the pool while wearing a swimsuit. Sorry Jessica, but that is against Florida State Law! I don’t care what your “plans” are, but I told you once and now I’ve told you twice that you are a criminal!

As the good book says, “Varying weights, varying measures, both are an abomination to the Lord (Proverbs ). Ave Maria Residence Life, it is high time that you hang up a “No Singing in a Swimsuit” sign on that pool gate and higher the adequate number of staff to ensure that no one is illegally cutting hair.

That, or we could just disregard the drinking age, because it’s pretty much the same thing.

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