i Underage Drinking and How we can Help Prevent it | COLLEGE WRITING: DEBATE(S) IN HIGHER EDCUATION

By: Sierra Severin

During the late 60s the legal drinking age was lowered from 21 to 18. After lowering the drinking age, alcohol-rated vehicle accidents among young people had increased dramatically. In the early 80s the legal drinking had raised back to 21 which lowered the number of alcohol-related vehicle accidents. Colleges can make it easier for underage drinking to happen. Almost every weekend all you have to do is walk down the street and you will find a party. Most students on campus also have a fake ID, and most bars around campus do not card college students to keep business flowing. Underage drinking and binge drinking happening on campus are mainly by members of a fraternity and sorority. Most colleges have tried to lower the amount of binge drinking and underage drinking, but not always succeeding. Underage drinking still remains a serious problem on campuses.

Underage drinking causes so many problems for not just the person doing it, but also for anyone around them. When intoxicated you make poor decisions which could cause you to be abused. The highest sexual assault risk for women happen when they are drunk. 71%-82% of all sexual assault cases are because a woman got drunk and a man took advantage of her. This isn’t just for underage drinking but it includes anyone who drinks. When you are intoxicated, you run the risk if being sexual assaulted. You are not alert when you are drinking which makes it hard for a person to say no.

One of the reasons why students drink is because it makes them more social. When you first arrive to college you barely know anyone. You want to make friends, so the easiest place to meet someone is to go to a party where everyone is having a good time and talking. The easiest way to meet someone is by doing something that other people have the same common interest in. For some people it could be sports. You meet so many people when you play a sport because your team becomes like second family to you, but for people who do not play sports it is a lot harder to make new friends.

Most college faculty and parents think it’s easy to make friends in college without drinking, however from my own personal experience, I can say that making friends in college has been one of the most stressful things so far. I came to SNC knowing only a few people, and I had to try to make friends with strangers that I didn’t grow up with. I do not drink, so for me it was even harder to make friends. I thought about going to parties to makes friends almost every day in September because I just didn’t know anyone here. Luckily for me, I made friends through FYE.

FYE- First Year Experience- has had a positive effect on my college experience. I think that every college should have the FYE program because it gives students who are experiencing college for the first time a chance to get to know people and make it more comfortable to transition into the college life. Knowing that you have a group of people who are your age, and are going through what you are going through, makes going to college a lot easier.

Another reason why underage drinking is a problem in colleges is because most businesses around campuses are bars and restaurants. Many bars allow students who under the age of 21 to enter even though they are serving alcohol. It is easy for an underage student to obtain alcohol while in a bar because their friends who are of age can buy the alcohol for them. I used to work in a bar. When it gets really busy and you allow students who are underage into the bar, you can’t always watch them to make sure they aren’t drinking alcohol. Bars also have the technology to scan IDs when you first enter the bar or when you order a drink available to them, that can read whether or not you are 21 and if the ID is fake. Most bars either don’t want to use the technology, don’t want to spend the money, or they just don’t feel like using it. In the bar that I worked at we did not have the technology to scan the IDs but we did not let anyone into the bar unless they were 21 or older. Most bar owners say that technology can’t read high quality counterfeit IDs, but it can still help detect the low quality ones. Tyler Kingkade is a writer for the Huffington Post, and brought a good point about how useful a fake ID scanner is: “The app might also impede the drinking habits of those who are of age, allowing bar owners to check whether or not a person has been banned, or help them set up a VIP list to ruin potential patrons’ self-esteem.” Not only will scanner tell you if the ID is fake, but it will help let other bars know when someone has tried using the ID before. This scanner would help stop underage drinking but if you let people in who are underage you can still run the risk of them drinking.  If all bars banned men and women who are under the age of 21 from going in, then that would help eliminate the possibility of students underage in bars.

Although bars being careless and students wanting to make friends does have an impact on students underage drinking, it isn’t the only reason why. Most students drink before they are legal because they feel that they should be able to since they can do everything else.  You can vote, smoke, and fight for our country at the age of 18, so many teens feel that it should be okay to drink as well. What students don’t realize when they underage drink is though that it can lead to serious issues when it comes to your health, and the safety of you and others. Not only is it illegal to drink at 18 even if you feel like it should be lowered, it can lead to alcohol poisoning, accidents, homicides, and abuse. When you are underage drinking you try to hide it from your parents and the authority so you take matters into your hands and you end up either driving home drunk or walking home drunk. My sister told me a story about when she was a freshmen in college. She went with a couple of people to a party one night, and they were all drinking, and one of her friends decided to walk home and not tell anyone. He didn’t want his friends knowing that he was drunk, and he didn’t want to call anyone to come get him. While he was walking home he fell down a hill, blacked out, and no one knew where he was. When someone finally found him he was barely alive and in critical condition. Now he is paralyzed from the waist down and can’t talk, all because he went to a party, got drunk, didn’t tell anyone he was leaving, and tried walking home.

Underage drinking is a serious problem, but even for people who are over the legal age drinking is a problem for them too. Everyone has a different reason as to why they drink, but not be responsible about drinking is never good idea. Lowering the drinking will not help the problem of underage drinking because they are already drinking. Students will drink whenever they want to no matter what the legal age because they think it doesn’t matter. Making it more difficult for a student to obtain alcohol would be the only way that we could lessen the amount of underage drinking. Underage drinking is always going to happen, whether we lower the drinking age or not because people who under the age of 18 are also drinking. We can never completely stop underage drinking, but we can help lessen the amount of underage students. If we provide students who are just coming into college, and still the students already in college, a group where they can make friends that is mandatory, then kids won’t have to drink to become more social with the people around them.

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