Charles Sorenson, President of the University of Wisconsin, Stout, has decided to take a sharp measure to curtail on-campus binge drinking after the sixth student in a few years died of alcohol poisoning. He has instated more Friday classes in an effort to have students study more on Friday nights than party before what some have as a three-day weekend.
While I applaud Sorenson’s desire to intervene, I feel that the measures he is taking are too little too late and may be as ineffective among students as the D.A.R.E. campaign from the last decade. Students who binge drink don’t have the basic skills of emotional intelligence (EQ) which they need for their own survival as well as their ability to interact in the world with others.
If we can begin to work with middle school students on EQ skills, more students will enter high school with a sense of purpose and direction. Of course, this purpose and direction can be taken too far and many “stressed out” students use alcohol to blow off steam. Still, we can teach people on the under and the over-achieving end of the spectrum about boundaries, moderation, healthy choices and self-control. Are we going to prevent college drinking? No. But can we help students to respect themselves and others at the deepest level so that they can party without going crazy. Then we will be teaching them the basics of moderation which is a key ingredient for success in life.
Schools and colleges need to have an honest dialogue with parents about these issues as well. Sometimes the strictest parents are the ones whose kids act out the most in college as a way of retaliating against such harsh rules. There is a balance to all of our behaviors and if we can strike that, fewer students will die from binge drinking, fewer students will engage in risky and unhealthy behaviors and more students overall will know how to have fun, drink moderately, and go home with people they can trust in the safest way possible.
Crackdown on campus drinking draws backlash
By Steve Kolowich
Inside Higher Ed
April 13, 2010
After the sixth alcohol-connected student death in two years, Charles Sorensen had had enough.
Sorensen, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin at Stout, penned a memo to the entire campus on March 30, informing students that he planned to redouble efforts to curb alcohol abuse on and around the campus: The university would increase the number of classes held on Fridays in order to discourage Thursday drinking; empower the dean of students to deal more harshly with underage drinking (and its abettors) as well as other alcohol-related offenses; and step up its efforts with local law enforcement to crack down on off-campus house parties, which he considers havens for underage students looking for access to booze.
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