You Booze. You Lose?
Students are pressured into underage drinking by everything from pop culture to the universities themselves, but then are punished for being caught. How is that fair?
By Terry Mooney, Ohio State University
College has always served as an institutional representation of higher education.
It attempts to help its students hone their talents in order to mold them into intelligent, well-rounded members of society who are equipped for the work force, while subsequently sucking their pockets dryer than a Mormon wedding.
However, if there is one thing that college does better than inciting crippling depression, it’s partying. With its abundance of fests, house parties, concerts and campus bars, college life normalizes underage drinking and, in a sense, even encourages it. That is, until you get caught. Then the consequences flow like cheap beer from a tap, and the collegiate contradiction becomes quickly evident.
To be fair, this notion that college life is fueled by illicit alcohol consumption and drug-enhanced antics is certainly not a new one, and wasn’t necessarily prompted by actual college experience. A quick scroll through any “Top College Movies List” will elicit a clear theme; the films are more focused on titties and toga parties than they are term papers and teacher mandated attendance.
In fact, you’ll rarely catch a student in a classroom during the movies, except for the standard scene where the nerdy freshman has sex with his History professor, who is suspiciously young and bodacious. Mine tend to more closely resemble the likes of Ms. Finster from “Recess,” but I digress.
Now, clearly movies like “American Pie” intentionally exaggerate aspects of college life in order to glamorize the Stifler party lifestyle and ultimately sell more movies. However, very rarely are the viewers of “college movies” actual students attending college, or even high-school seniors awaiting acceptance. More than likely, they are fourteen-year-old boys in the depths of puberty, watching with anticipation in their heart and their hands in their pants, praying they see even the slightest glance of a breast. Thus, kids are being subjected to this boozy, raucous partying at such a young age, it’s no wonder that by the time they hit college, they’ll drink butane out of a shoe just to catch a buzz.
One company, “Im Shmacked”, which met its peak popularity in 2014, made millions off traveling to different universities, throwing huge parties and videotaping the ensuing debauchery. The resulting videos are posted to YouTube, where they garner often hundreds of thousands of views. The production company has come under fire in the past for starting a riot in Delaware, as well as promoting rape culture and the degradation of women.
Drinking, quite frequently of the underage variety, is undoubtedly the culprit, which fuels all this behavior. Although “Im Shmacked” claims “No alcohol or illegal substance is used during filming, just props,” this seems about as likely as a J.K. Rowling-Piers Morgan love affair. And, as someone who has attended the event (the party, not the love affair), I can say with absolute certainty that that is not the case.
The videos, much like the aforementioned movies, are most frequently consumed by students in high school rather than college, and thus further perpetuate the glorification of underage drinking. Yet, colleges still allow for the videos to be made and for their names and logos to be displayed prominently throughout.
Now, this is not to say that underage drinking doesn’t run rampant in high school either, because it certainly does. However, college provides you with such an ideal party environment, as blocks are lined with houses packed full of rambunctious young-adults, that it almost begs you to make irresponsible decisions. Think Jimmy’s neighborhood in the “Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius” movie when all the parents get abducted by aliens, except everyone has fake I.D.’s and is sexually active. Such an environment, peppered with bars, parties and tailgates that don’t check I.D.’s at the door, seemingly offers refuge to underage drinkers, who are simply looking to enjoy themselves during their first few years.
However, this façade is quickly demolished by the iron fist of authority. Undercover cops scour the campus during game days, walking onto front porches uninhibited and demanding to see identification from unsuspecting students. Bars will purposely slack on security in order to draw in throngs of thirsty twenty-year-olds, only to then have the bar raided by police.
Whether it be by campus or city police, isn’t this behavior indicative of entrapment? Shouldn’t your school’s supposed “party atmosphere” protect you from this? Where is your university, which had no issue promoting their brand with the excessive consumption of “Im Shmacked,” when you get caught under the influence outside of your dorm? It’s simple; they’re kicking back and counting your misconduct fee.
Many schools have sanctioning guidelines when it comes to underage alcohol consumption that include probationary periods, intervention programs, community service and, of course, fines. One of these schools is Ohio University. Widely known for their “Fest Season,” the school hosts a fest for nearly every major residential street on campus, in addition to various others, pinnacling finally at “The Number’s Fest.”
OU’s dedication to drinking, and the overall easygoing attitude of its students, helps them commonly find themselves at the top of “Biggest Party School Lists.” Unfortunately, the police and school administrators do not share in the same cheery disposition as their students. A simple Google search regarding Ohio University fest arrests will bring up countless hits; 81 arrested at Palmer Fest 2010, 52 arrested at Mill Fest in 2013, over 70 arrested at their Halloween celebration in 2015, and a whopping additional 100 on Halloween in 2013.
Ohio University enacts a misconduct fee of $200 for its students for first time underage drinking offenders, and $100 for non-students. Obviously, these fests bring in thousands of visitors, as the events are highly publicized to surrounding schools, and therefore police protection must be increased. However, the problem is the officers treat the masses of celebrating students as a hunting ground. Undercover cops wearing “trendy” clothes to blend in, like wolves in sheep clothing, prey on younger looking students casually drinking a beer, rather than focusing on those causing harm. By doing so, they can arrest large numbers of underage students, subsequently providing the school and city with more money.
For a school whose party reputation has been both thoroughly cemented and perpetuated by these fests, the fact that Ohio University allows them to happen, while simultaneously targeting and profiting off underage drinkers, exposes the true contradiction that is at work here.
Underage alcohol consumption has always existed and likely always will exist. However the glorification of it through “college” movies and university hype videos does nothing but help perpetuate the idea that it is consequence free, when in reality you’ll wake up in a cell next to a scraggly man named Randy who has something neat to show you in his pocket. Thank God I’m twenty-one.