Every September, just as new college students are entering dorms for the first time and older students return to campus, we see an uptick in the number of media outlets looking to cover college drinking culture. Our publication Alcohol Issues Insights has covered these stories as well as studies of that culture and its effects on student life, not to mention the various policies institutions have implemented in attempts to keep their students safe. When I joined BMI in 2010 just 3 years out of college, my dad, Eric, long-time AII editor, gleefully started piling anything he gathered about college drinking on my desk, commenting that I was “closer” to the culture than he was. Now I’m 6 years out of college and still eagerly flipping thru these pieces, analyzing the studies and listening out for policy changes.
This year, the Washington Post printed a long article on “The College Drinking Problem” in its magazine. Anyone working in the beer industry (or not) who is at least as far out of college as I am might want to take a peek. Or maybe a long stare. As I say, it’s a deep dive, but it drops readers off at a commencement ceremony pre-game at U-Va, a registered party in Boston College and other bastions of collegiate shenanigans. Keeping in touch with these students and how and why they’re choosing to drink the way they drink is an important early step in identifying policy possibilities. And the college policy-makers that the Post talks to, while hopeful that they may be making progress, are clear that this “problem” likely won’t go away anytime soon. I used the piece, and the administrator’s lack of certainty, to open an article we printed in Alcohol Issues Insights this week, before diving into various updates from schools around the country. Of particular interest: lots of focus on education, including bringing parents into the mix.
I didn’t have room in that article for one particularly frank University of Nebraska-Lincoln junior though. Early this month, he took the unpopular position in his school’s newspaper in support of UNL’s dry campus policy. His reasoning? While not perfect, he deems staying “dry” to be “the policy that best supports” what he calls the “two major overreaching [sic? overarching? maybe not...] goals” of colleges/college students:
“1. Get a degree.
2. Don’t die.”
Fair enough. Of course, dangerous drinking “is still a problem” at UNL, he cops, and one “that no one really has a solution to.”