Before starting classes at the University of Dallas in the fall of 2013, I had to complete an alcohol-awareness class called AlcoholEDU. Every incoming freshman had to complete the online course in order to remain academically eligible.
In theory, the course would make sure every UD student knew enough about the dangers of consuming alcohol to abstain from drinking alcohol before the age of 21 and to avoid getting drunk even after being of age.
In reality, I learned very little from the course that I did not already know. Does anybody over the age of 18 not know that alcohol inhibits a person’s control of his faculties? Are people really unaware that overdosing on alcohol is dangerous or that drinking and driving puts lives in danger? If such people exist they are certainly not smart enough to get into UD — although the University of Texas at Dallas might have spots open.
Shortly after classes began, two things quickly became apparent.
The first was that nobody seemed to have a positive view of AlcoholEDU. Most people viewed it as a waste of time, which it was.
The second was that drinking really was not that big of a deal here.
The people drinking the most appeared to be the freshmen who thought college would be as crazy as the movies made it seem.
The students who had been here for a little while would drink, yes, but they would not be stupid about it. I remember thinking then that upperclassmen were lame because they drank less than freshmen did.
The same is true today: those drinking the hardest typically are also the youngest.
College freshmen across the country tend to be idiots when it comes to alcohol. This is not something unique to UD.
The longer students remain at UD, however, the more responsible those students become in how they drink. Contrary to what some university administrators have posited, the “UD culture” actually discourages irresponsible drinking.
It shouldn’t be surprising that the longer one spends in a culture dedicated to the pursuit of truth, wisdom and virtue, the more one will abstain from unwise, unvirtuous behavior.
In 2014, UD made the Princeton Review’s list of the top 20 sober schools in America — one of only two schools in Texas to make the list. The Dallas Observer poked fun at UD’s lack of drinking, saying:
“[1845 E Northgate is] where we’re telling our least favorite younger relative to head for college.”
It was not the first time UD was named one of the top 20 sober schools in the country, and it almost certainly will not be the last. Why? Because drinking really is not as big of a deal at UD as some people might think.
Nevertheless, UD’s Office of Student Affairs (OSA) is cracking down on alcohol this year. In the Aug. 31 edition of The University News, Resident Coordinator Jim Bogdan explained that OSA is trying to cure UD’s alcohol problem.
“Typically, in my experience, it is the default here that people think you will drink and you will drink until you are past the control of your [faculties] to some degree, whether that is completely passed out or you need help walking in a straight line,” Bogdan told The University News.
Such an explosive accusation — especially from a university employee — should be backed up by evidence. However, Bogdan provided no evidence to support the claim that alcohol abuse is a real problem at UD, much less that the UD culture is driving it.
OSA’s misguided initiative is not just a waste of tuition money; it actually runs the risk of hurting the very students the university is trying to help.
If there is one thing every college student needs more of, it is time.
If there is one thing that stresses college students out like nothing else, it is a lack of time. And stress, of course, is one of the primary drivers of binge drinking.
So why does anybody at OSA think that forcing students to take classes, undergo counseling and write papers for the crime of having a beer in their freshman dorms will solve anything?
If you want it to be a punishment then call it a punishment. But do not steal time away from students’ studies under the guise of saving them from themselves.
Here’s an idea: Let’s skip the hysterics and let students return our shared mission of pursuing truth, wisdom and virtue. I’ll drink to that.