Last call for alcohol on college campuses

DAVIS, Calif. (U-WIRE) — Washington State University’s recent riot showed the nation just how important drinking is to college students; when city police tried to enforce a dry alcohol policy at a party on the campus’ Greek Row, 1,000 party-goers started a bonfire and began throwing rocks and beer bottles at the officers.
The troubling side effects of a “beer-drinking culture” — binge-drinking fatalities, fraternity hazing and drunken driving — initially prompted Washington State University officials to ban drinking parties at the school’s 27 fraternity houses last July. Since then, students have grumbled, sometimes violently, about the draconian policy.
Perhaps because of the dangerous signs of immaturity and recklessness that students displayed in the riot, officials are now more resolved than ever: Alcohol will no longer be a part of greek culture at Washington State.
Washington State University officials should be commended for addressing such a volatile issue. No college campus is immune to the pervasive presence of alcohol, but few are willing to take steps to confront the risks associated with campus drinking.
Those risks become more clear every time newspapers print headlines about students being hospitalized or killed as a result of alcohol consumption. For example, the news that hazing traditions at Louisiana State University cost an 18-year-old fraternity pledge his life last fall sobered college students across the nation and tamed a few pledge activities.
Fortunately, at University of California Davis alcohol infractions have had less than lethal consequences; last month’s scuffle over a beer tap at a local fraternity house resulted in a concussion and a broken jawbone. But the fact that the fraternity was engaging in risky behavior — namely, violating a campus policy that prohibits kegs — should be a signal to the campus community that UC Davis’ ability to sidestep tragedy has been mostly a matter of luck.
Unfortunate and needless incidences have prompted some students to take steps to curb alcohol-related abuse and ensure that such a tragedy as LSU experienced never strikes the Davis campus.
All eight UC Davis sorority houses are considering shaking hands on a pact stating greek women will not socialize with fraternities known to practice hazing or violate campus alcohol policies. The inventive move may finally convince fraternities, which are already plagued by small pledge classes, to follow the rules.
Although fraternities that abide by campus alcohol regulations should be applauded for their commitment to responsible drinking, those groups that do not should be reprimanded by campus administration.
Dry fraternity houses are not the remedy for every university campus. As long as students and administrators take cooperative measures in dealing with campus drinking, we can act more responsibly and intelligently to prevent future problems.

This staff editorial appeared in Thursday’s University of California – Davis California Aggie.