This week’s Newsweek magazine “American’s Best and Drunkest,” 9/11/14 by Abigail Jones and Alexander Nazaryan) featured an in-depth profile on the current binge drinking crisis on US college campuses, using Dartmouth as its prime example.
For year’s Dartmouth’s high profile drinking has been legend. Perhaps due to its remote, small town location or its healthy Greek life, Dartmouth is cited in the article as the home of the famous drinking game “Beer Pong,” which is now a nationwide campus favorite. Weekends begin on Wednesday evening at Dartmouth, states the article, with students flocking to fraternities and sororities to play pong, and drink.
Clearly binge drinking and sexual assault are linked, and colleges across the country— not just Dartmouth— are facing a serious challenge. Since 1984, when Congress raised the drinking age from 18 to 21, students have arrived on campus finding a “no holds barred” access to alcohol, and to sex.
No college needs this kind of publicity, and Dartmouth is simply the most prominent example of many colleges with a serious culture of drinking. Leadership is needed, and it needs to come from college administrators. A close examination of the role that fraternities play may be a good place to start. How much education about alcohol abuse is done during freshman orientation? Are parents talking about these issues before the students arrive, and can colleges provide online information about topics to be covered at home?
The risks of doing nothing include continuing rapes on campus, with consequent government involvement. Another concern is that colleges become, for some, a training ground for alcohol abuse and dependence, with the attendant personal and professional spin out.