Black On Campus
Higher Education and the African American Experience

Black College Students and Alcohol, Part I

December 6th, 2008 by Ajuan Mance

The 75th anniversary of the end of prohibition strikes me as a perfect time to examine the current state of alcohol consumption on college campuses. After all, on Friday and Saturday nights a college campus isĀ  likely to feel a lot less like a center of higher learning and lot more like a postmodern speakeasy. There are many reasons for this, not the least of which is the prohibition stance taken by most U.S. college and university administrators.

In response to the failure of such policies to significantly limit the numbers of alcohol-related injuries and assaults among their students, a growing number of U.S. college presidents and other administrators have begun to advocate for a drop in the drinking age, back to 18. John McCardell, the former president of Middlebury College, is the director of Choose Responsibility, an organization that advocates bringing the U.S. legal drinking age in line with the legal age of majority (18). More specifically, Choose Responsibility seeks to restore the right to drink alcohol legally to adults under the age of 21 through the implementation of a program of substance abuse education that would culminate in a license to purchase and consume alchohol (not unlike a driver’s license).

Though many are skeptical that such a move could create anything but chaos, I strongly support the push to bring college drinking up above the radar. The current prohibition policy for drinkers under the age of 21 encourages an illicit alcohol culture, and one that is characterized by the same excesses and extremes (and denial) that accompany any illicit activity.

Posted by Ajuan Mance

Posted in African Americans, Alcohol, Black Students, Higher Education, race, white students

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