All Hail: On-campus drinking less dangerous

It’s inevitable – underage drinking at Northeastern happens. It’s irrefutable that Northeastern is not alone in what society calls an “epidemic” of alcohol abuse. Campus regulations are at an all-time high, while universities nationwide attempt to decrease the number of students engaged in illegal drinking. But considering college students are a high percentage of underage drinkers in America, you have to wonder: is there much a university can do to prevent all its underage students from drinking?

Don’t get me wrong – I believe Northeastern is successful with many programs trying to recognize and prevent the problem. The Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution (OSCCR) does a great job protecting students and maintaining a civil campus. The online AlcoholEDU program, which informs students about the effects of alcohol, is instated at the university. The school offers several help lines and services. But while there is protection on campus, is there any protection for students after they step foot off campus?

Northeastern is located in the heart of Boston, a short walk from some of the best places Beantown has to offer. But what happens to anyone under 21 when the city closes at 8 p.m. on a Saturday night? It seems once night falls, students tread to the outskirts of campus to drink on Mission Hill or Columbus Avenue.

The question can be posed: Do we really want drunk underage students walking home from Mission Hill at 3 a.m.? Personally, I feel it is their choice and their responsibility to face the consequences of their actions. But if the campus can prevent the severe consequences of these walks home like rape or even death, why wouldn’t it? If the university could give students the desire to stay on campus, students would be protected.

Sure, the campus could provide more late night activities or host dry parties for students to attend, but would that be enough to save the lives of the thousands of students who are either hurt or killed every year because of alcohol-related issues? We can’t close our eyes to what’s happening – we need to keep them wide open to the reality of our campus.

For the most part, I cannot claim to have a solution to this issue. Because alcohol will continue to be a negative symbol in the eyes of many American parents and a source of rebellion in the eyes of their children, alcohol will continue to be abused. I do not believe campus should condone underage drinking at all, as that would be preposterous. However, aren’t there better methods for keeping students safe? Instead of threatening suspension or expulsion, what about threatening education or community service?

When has severely punishing a child ever truly taught a lesson? Does the university really believe suspending a student will bring an end to underage drinking on campus?

Northeastern can’t avoid it – so why not help it? When students are engaging in unprotected sex, the campus prides itself on acknowledging the issue and protecting its students by providing condoms. Although sex is not illegal, I feel there is a parallel. We can’t be ignorant – we need to be aware and do what we can to keep students safe.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated the number of underage deaths due to excessive alcohol use is 4,554 a year. Northeastern can avoid being part of that statistic. So why is it chasing its students away instead of keeping them safe on campus? It’s obvious I’m not providing a clear solution, but I do feel there is one. We need to find it before it’s too late.

– Rani Pimentel is a freshman business major.

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