Alcohol consumption is the number one drug problem in this country today. It is essentially a poison that wreaks havoc on one’s body. According to a study done by Healthline, even small amounts can have substantive effects.
If we drink too much, our body physically rejects it. If we drink a little, we still take considerable damage to our nervous, digestive, circulatory, skeletal, muscular and immune systems—especially over long periods of time.
Imagine, then, how much damage is done when one drinks considerable amounts of alcohol consistently for a long period of time. This is a very real danger to college freshmen, who come to universities and enter into a well-established culture of heavy drinking.
According to a survey conducted by Harvard University and alcohol.edu, 70 percent of freshmen and undergraduates do not identify as drinkers upon arriving to college. However, by graduation, these same students flip the statistic completely, with 77 percent saying they engaged in habitual drinking.
This creates a major risk for incoming students, both in terms of health and academics, one that the University and the city should do more to address. Numerous studies by reputable institutions, such as The International Journal of Preventative Medicine, St. Lawrence University, and The Centers for Disease Control have shown that habitual or regular drinking has an overwhelmingly negative effect on students’ academic performance.
Therefore, it can be seen that this drinking culture has adverse effects on all students, not just freshmen. The university should partner with the city, then, to make the purchase and consumption of alcohol more difficult for students of all ages.
In the face of such undeniable evidence, it only makes sense to completely restrict the sale and advertisement of alcohol in stores and restaurants near campus. This would not solve the problem completely, but it would be a start.
Another good idea would be to provide certain benefits and rewards to students who pass regular tests proving that they have not engaged in heavy drinking (a hair follicle test can tell if one has consumed any considerable amount of alcohol 90 days prior to the testing). These rewards should be considerable.
Ultimately, however, students will drink. They will always find a way to get their hands on alcohol, legally or otherwise. The ultimate burden falls on the poor quality of life for young people, and therefore, onto the city and state to improve this quality of life.
Providing living wages for all workers, rent controls for expensive housing, and alternative avenues for social interaction which do not encourage drinking could lower the consumption of alcohol considerably among students, who often feel like they need to drink as an escape, or as a celebration for the end of a difficult day or week.
In the face of such a major health risk, we owe it to incoming students to improve their chances in their new environment. We may initially lose money. We will certainly face a negative backlash from many students, but the right way is not always the popular one. In the end, though, the results will speak for themselves.