The “Right” to Drink and Drug

Posted on December 15, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

One of the greatest challenges that I face as a conduct officer is trying to turn the tide against many of the collegiate “rights of passage” that are interwoven into the fabric of our society. Whether it is through the proliferation of movies made in honor of Animal House (Old School, American Pie, Van Wilder…), or personal drinking/drugging habits in high school or simply by the age old tradition of storytelling, most college students come to campus with a romantic view of the drinking/drugging that await them. Not only do students view these behaviors as necessary in order to build friendships and create life-long memories, they also feel that it is their right to engage in these behaviors. Their parents did it, their siblings did it, their favorite actor or actress did it, heck they did it in high school, so why can’t they do it here and now?

Here’s my best response: First and foremost, you can and some of you will drink and do drugs. There’s no way to catch everyone, every time and believe me when I tell you that campus police do not have to go searching for underage drinkers and drug users; they come to them. Just because you can drink/drug that doesn’t mean you should. Those of you who do decide to drink/drug are taking on a huge responsibility. You are basically saying that you are willing to accept responsibility and be held accountable for actions that you may commit while using substances that have been proven to impair reasoning and judgment, lower inhibitions, and exaggerate emotions.  

For those of you who are willing to take on this responsibility, please be aware that if you act in a way that violates the student conduct code, you will be meeting with a conduct officer. Of course there is no way for this officer to simply sanction you to quite drinking/drugging. Instead it would be my hope that you will leave your meeting with a much better understanding of the consequences that await you if you continue to engage in the same behavior that got you there in the first place. I want you to acknowledge and accept that a repeat violation will affect you in some of these ways: taking much needed money out of your pocket, losing ability to live on campus, taking financial aid out of your grasp, putting internship, research opportunities and study abroad trips out of reach, and seriously put a strain on your employment opportunities after graduation-that is, if you graduate, because multiple violations might result in you being asked to leave the university. I want you to acknowledge and accept that excessive drinking/drugging is often responsible for strained and lost friendships, academic difficulties, physical and emotional violence, and injury to one’s self and others.

These consequences may seem a bit extreme, but you deserve to hear the truth. You may think it is your right to drink/drug, but it is your right to know all the things you must be willing to lose. You get to decide whether the opportunity to make friends- friends who demand that you drink or drug, and life-long memories -memories that involve products that produce memory loss are worth the risks involved. It is your right choose.

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    The challenges, successes and ideas of a budding (student affairs) professional

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