Binge drinking and partying—just a part of college, right? Nowadays, when envisioning the college social scene, we see red cups, handles of liquor, and jam-packed frat parties. In an attempt to end self-destructive and harmful habits, universities like Dartmouth have decided to ban hard alcohol on-campus. But, we must ask ourselves, what’s the root of the problem?
According to the US Center for Disease Prevention and Control, binge drinking accounts for nearly 90-percent of the alcohol consumed by youth under the age of 21. Binge drinking comes with unintentional injuries, risk of sexually transmitted diseases, and sexual assault. What’s to blame for the unhealthy drinking culture?
When my parents discuss their college years, sure, drinking comes into the conversation—but not to the extent that we see today. The excessive shots and frequent “black outs” seem to be a trait of our generation, a commonality among the millennials. Similarly, while studying abroad in Spain, I noticed a distinct difference in how young people handled themselves with alcohol. Although the Spaniards stayed out late partying and dancing in the discotecas, severe intoxication took a backseat to responsible, social drinking.
Some argue that the drinking age causes binge drinking; students must “hide” their behavior, and therefore abuse alcohol. Kids should enter college having tried alcohol and practiced drinking responsibly in their homes. In contrast, the opposing side deems lowering the drinking age as medically irresponsible. Drinking at eighteen only legalizes a higher volume at risk of dangerous situations in clubs, at parties, and on the roads.
What are the ethical implications of lowering the drinking age? Who’s accountable? Although illegal, is underage drinking unethical? In our new Big Q experiment with YikYak posting, I posed a questions surrounding binge drinking and the legal age.
One student responded in favor of lowering the drinking age, writing, “As someone who comes from a country where the drinking age is 18 […] I never encountered binge drinking until now. I grew up having a glass of wine with my parents all the time. I learned.” Another student answered, “It’s just a part of college culture.” Although the YikYak community seemed overwhelmingly in favor a legal age of eighteen, we must consider the ethics behind both sides of the debate.
What are the ethical implications of adulthood? In the United States, when we turn 18, we become legal adults with new and different rights, responsibilities and privileges from those of minors. Does the ability to monitor our own alcohol consumption fall into this category?
Who’s ethically responsible for accidents involving alcohol? Lowering the drinking age puts more people at risk of injury. Is the government morally obligated to keep its citizens out of harm’s way?
The first 20 student comments on “Neknominated” win a $5 Yiftee gift to a local business. Use your gift to try out that new flavor of ice cream or spend it on two slices of your favorite pizza. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, March 30th, 2014. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by e-mail in the right hand column) for updates.
**DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional.**
Lawson is a junior at a large public school in California. He is still in touch with many of his childhood friends who now attend other universities around the country. Most of his communication with his old friends is over social media. One day, Lawson gets a notification from one of his friends at a college on the East Coast. In a video called a “Neknomination,” Lawson’s friend shows himself chugging four different types of alcoholic drinks while standing in the trunk of a moving car. His friend has now nominated Lawson to do a Neknomination within the next 24 hours.
Lawson looks online to research what Neknominations are. He finds out that the new Internet craze, that entails videos of people drinking alcoholic beverages on social media, originated in Australia with individuals recording themselves chugging a beer. The craze has now escalated, with participants trying to do even crazier stunts with booze than their friends who nominate them. He even reads about some deaths that have happened due to the challenge.
Lawson is faced with a difficult decision. On one hand, he doesn’t want to complete the nomination for many reasons. He isn’t 21 yet and doesn’t want to post a video of himself on social media drinking alcohol, because he is afraid of the repercussions it may have on him while job hunting. He doesn’t know if he can top his friend chugging four alcoholic drinks in the trunk of a moving vehicle. He also has academic commitments within the next 24 hours that will be negatively affected if he attempts a stunt.
On the other hand, Lawson wants to be a good sport and has always enjoyed competitions like this with his friends. He knows that if he doesn’t follow through with this Neknomination, not only will his good friend never let him live it down, but it will also be broadcast to his large network of friends since the craze all centers around social media.
Lawson isn’t sure what to do. Should he accept the Neknomination and post a video on social media? Should he try to top his friend’s post or just chug one beer? Is it ethical and safe for students to be playing a game like Neknominate on social media sites? If Lawson goes along, will he be contributing to the escalation of this game to unsafe levels?
The best college student comment on "The Pre-game" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. The video should allow you to choose whose story you will follow. If you have trouble with this feature, you can view the video on YouTube.
Entries must be received by midnight, Oct. 14. Finalists are selected by likes, so get your friends to like your comment. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by email in the right hand column) for updates.
For this contest, watch this interactive video which allows you to choose what two college students, Ari and Daniel, will do on a night out. Click on the prompts to make your selection. At the end, comment here and tell us about a time you faced a decision like Ari's and Daniel's.
The best student comment on "Pay Attention: Using Stimulants Without a Prescription" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, Feb. 5. Finalists are selected by "likes," so click the Facebook icon above to let your friends know about The Big Q contest
Jill has always had trouble focusing. In middle school and high school, she has struggled to maintain her attention on class, homework, and other academic responsibilities. If not for her own determination and the encouragement of her parents, she probably would have never gone to college as she does now.
However, with midterms just around the corner, her inattentive tendencies are flaring worse than ever. And with poor grades after her first semester, she needs to do well on these tests to keep her GPA above her scholarship’s cutoff. Fortunately, a friend of hers, one familiar with Jill’s problems, has a prescription for Adderall and offers some to Jill so she can concentrate better during finals.
Jill only plans to take the pills this one time considering summer is so near. She doesn’t think she’s getting an advantage because her peers can already focus better than she can. She really needs higher grades this semester to keep her scholarship.
Is it all right if she takes some Adderall? Here are some resources that may be helpful:
Best student comment on "The Drinking Age" wins a $50 gift certificate. Comments must be received by midnight Oct. 9.
David was always a responsible young adult in high school. He worked hard for good grades. He participated in a number of extra curricular activities. He never drank or did drugs. It was his desire to attend a prestigious college that motivated all of this, and he didn’t want to do anything that would jeopardize his chance at admittance.
Even still, David’s friends would occasionally ask him why he didn’t party with them, and he always had the same response: It wasn’t a moral abstention, but a legal one. People under the age of 21 aren’t allowed to drink, and he didn’t want to do something he could wait a few years to experience.
However, now that David’s 18-years-old and in college, he finds himself with a different opinion. He no longer has to worry about getting into his university. He finds himself less concerned with the dangers of high school drinking. He gives more consideration to the idea that he can vote and go to war, yet he’s not allowed to consume alcohol.
David doesn’t intend to do anything dangerous when drinking, just have a couple beers when he goes out with his new friends. He’s in a relatively safe environment. He plans to drink responsibly. Is there really a problem?
Best student comment wins a $50 Amazon Gift Certificate. Responses must be received by midnight September 11, 2011
Isaac moved off campus his sophomore year into an apartment with his friend Jason. Isaac and Jason met in their dorm during freshman year. Isaac always thought Jason seemed like a really cool guy until he discovered that Jason was into cocaine. Not only was Jason a user; he also distributed cocaine to others on campus. Isaac doesn’t want to rat Jason out because they’re friends, but Isaac doesn’t want to run the risk of being kicked out of his apartment, or worse, going to jail.
Should Isaac confront Jason and tell him that he knows he has been using and selling cocaine? Should Isaac tell a school counselor? the police?
Best student comment wins a $50 Amazon Gift Certificate. Responses must be received by midnight July 31.
It had been a long second week of freshman year. Roommates Sally and Morgan were ready for the weekend. On Friday night, they heard about an upcoming party and decided to check it out. The beer was plentiful, and even though they were underage, Sally and Morgan were welcome to drink as much as they wanted.
As the night progressed, Morgan, who had very little experience with alcohol in high school, started to feel sick, so Sally helped her back to the dorm. When they got to the dorm bathroom, Morgan passed out next to the sink.
Sally wasn't sure what she should do. She had heard that there were EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians) on campus to help in this situation. But she'd also heard that when you called the EMTs, you got fined and "written up." She didn't want to get in trouble or to make trouble for Morgan, but she thought her friend might be really ill.
It has been a hectic fall quarter. Jack is checking his finals schedule: two exams on Tuesday (back to back) and two on Wednesday. How is he going to possibly do all of this studying? As he sits looking over his notes, Amanda, a classmate sits next to him, and he complains about the amount of work he's going to have to do.
She suggests Jack take a pill to help him concentrate and study better: Adderall. He really doesn't know what Adderall is, but Amanda says it will be okay. She has a prescription (a lot of kids take it for attention deficit disorder to help them focus), and he can trust her. She assures him that many college kids take Adderall and other drugs to help them study during finals week. Does Jack take the pill, believing his classmate and hoping that this will really help? Or does he decide that maybe it's not such a good idea to be taking pills to study especially if it's someone else's prescription?