Since January 1, 2018, there have been 30 arrests due to violating the alcohol policy at Lander and being criminal offenses according to Lander University Police Department (LUPD). However, as claimed by the health tracking system at Lander Student Wellness Center, 21 cases took place in this fall semester, and 15 incidents were involved with underage consumption.
It was a Thursday night in 2015, Johnson (alias) with his freshmen friends were celebrating his 18th birthday at Bearcat Village. A knock at door intervened his nerves. He ran to the bathroom and tried to get a little bit sober. Then he heard a policeman standing at the other side of the door and called him out immediately. He came out and found the policeman was talking to his friends. More police officers arrived at the same time, and they did a breathalyzer on each one who was drinking and wrote tickets to those who blew something in consequence. “But one rude officer pulled like three of us to the side and said if it was one of his kids in the room hell and locked our asses up,” Johnson recalls. “The ticket was like 400 dollars, and you could take some class and do the community service to get it off your record; the total cost for that class and everything that came with it was close to 700 along with one-year probation at school.”
Higher education as one of the concern-stricken frontiers has been making progress since the 1980s. Unfortunately, raising the legal drinking age from 18 to 21 seems eclipsed flying in the face of Thursday-night fun hours. Despite there is a consensus ban established to prevent the underage alcohol purchase and possession thanks to the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, yet some comfort zones are still welcome to allow alcoholic beverage assumption for those who are under 21 years of age. “Those restaurants and bars are our socially-targeted places where no one actually cares about your ID or fake ID in Greenwood,” said Emily (alias) who started drinking at 16. Before her 21st birthday this month, October 2018, she had enough of many kinds of drinking. Hence, there is not enough desire to drink when she can legally drink alcohol.
It is easier to lead a campus dry than make it sober. As the Vice President for Student Affairs, Boyd Yarbrough stated: “I am not fighting the culture that students desire to drink on campus.” Under Lander Student Code of Conduct, eligible students can virtually drink on campus with specific permission from the university administration. “But I hope them learn to be responsible for the consequences of their choices and be smart about their choices because alcohol is almost always a gateway to something bad happening, and the vast of these cases involved alcohol.” He also mentioned that other than Lander, over the five schools he worked before, they all had student death in which involved the alcohol. Some caused suicidal tragedy, some fell out the balcony, and some passed out and never waked up.
The abuse screening system is the protective umbrella to prevent students soaked in booze. As the statistics from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism flag up that about 1 in 4 college students report academic consequences from drinking, including missing class, falling behind in class, doing poorly on exams or papers, and receiving lower grades overall. Working at Lander for nearly14 years, Joe Franks, the Director of Behavior Intervention Team & Substance Abuse, also an Assistance Counselor said: “Lander became a dry campus since the law changed drinking age from 18 to 21. To help students stay in safe, we developed a system to track student alcohol-related incidents.” This program not only can keep a close eye on students against the campus policies and state laws but also calculated the cases of alcohol concern which take peers’ observations into account to pull off the sparks of violation potential. Behind those numbers, there is a group of students who are, in point of fact, innocent guilt but for their presence at the spot where people drink, they take the free rides down to the record list whether they are underage or not in line with the current Lander Student Handbook.
For a better performance of Lander screening system, Residential Assistants play critical roles in the whole team. Safeguarding the front line of student affairs, they take the responsibilities to report the cases to LUPD and Wellness Center. Josiah Thompson-Byrd, as an R.A. at Lide 2 apartment was proud of his sector where has kept a zero-violation record so far during his term. However, he brought up the fact that most students’ blinds are closed from day to night so that unless there is excessive noise, no one can tell their every move inside the rooms.
Confronted with the seeming maniac firewater craving in America, Conor Cull, a British student at Lander Golf Team gave the details of drinking culture in the UK. “We grow up around the substance, so we are educated; it’s really not a big deal once we are of age.” Whereas in America, there is another story. “Americans seem to drink with the purpose of getting drunk every time they drink. I believe this is because of the drinking age is 21 in the US as opposed to 18 back home.” The drinking age in America seems paradoxical since if you are old enough to vote, why can’t you have a drink at 18? South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Service (SCDAODAS) explained that the “21law” is not based on responsibility, but on human physiology. Counselor Franks illustrated that during the age from 17 to 24, the human brain would come through vast changes. In that case, the fewer alcohol people consume, the lower health risk will happen in the later life. Also, she emphasized, “this change can vary with the most influential element, family history.”
As to the serious issues regarding drinking alcohol on campus. Chief Crag Allen demonstrated the standard procedure is to conduct an investigation on the alcohol violation and determine what our actions will consist of after the investigation. He recalled “We have had several things happen over my time here at Lander. This includes sexual assaults, fights, students being removed from campus, removed from school, loss of scholarships, the loss of a driver’s license.” In South Coraline, two violations of any alcohol-or-other-drug-related laws can cause students to lose their state-funded grants and scholarships. Chief Allen continued “Many times students do not remember what happened to them because of the amount of alcohol intake. The worst cases I have worked were of the sexual assaults that have resulted in students drinking and making poor decisions.”
In a recent survey conducted on campus about student alcohol drinking behaviors. 516 students on campus took this survey, and 36.6 percent of respondents claimed that they drink regularly. However, two facts can draw more attention to this number. One is that 21.7 percent of responses didn’t apply any frequency to this question. The other is 81.4 percent of respondents are underage. Hopefully, 94.8 percent of responses show enough confidence to themselves and believe they don’t have any drinking problem while only 3.5 percent of students hold “Maybe.” When it comes to the debate wet vs. dry campus, which one is safer. 37 percent of responses support wet campus, 54 percent dry campus and 9 percent stay neutral. Below are top ten opinions from both for and against sides given the question is wet campus safer.
Speaking of this debate, Vice President Yarbrough stated “this question can be a myth with a shifted lens to others. Students should learn how to be responsible for their behaviors.” Transplanting responsibilities is not the way to go but quite popular among students. On the other hand, he pointed out the difference between the school bar and local bars. With a third-party contract, school bars will take care of every legitimate drinking behavior on campus with the best of their ability, which often means the price of alcohol beverage on campus can be more expensive compared with some local bars which usually try to attract student consumers with lower-price strategy. As a liquor “Starbucks” on campus, it is hard to tell how many students would exchange for a glass of freedom with their green tickets.
The campus temperance movement may take the edge off Pre-Friday part-time. From the recent assessment by Lander Student Wellness Center, Ms. Franks pointed out: “We thought it would be the Thursday night that carries highest violation rate, only to finds that most cases happened on the weekend.” Another news that mingled hope and fear is the fact prior to the last three year; alcohol abuse acted as a tumor on-campus substance violation whereas marijuana assumption is catching on with a rapidly increasing number of new followers on campus.
Eat, drink and be merry as long as it is legally accepted. For those students who might want to drive off campus, sit and have a drink. Chief Allen advised “Always travel in groups and stay together when you are out for a party or event. Never leave a friend behind, no matter how much they tell you that it is fine. Never accept an open drink from anyone and always watch your surroundings. Once you place a drink down and walk away from it, it is no longer your drink. We do not want someone tampering with your food or drinks. Just remember always to be safe and be aware of your surroundings.”
Thirsty-Thursday night might fade out of the modern tradition and campus social ritual as the remorseless drinking is losing its younger patrons in the game of vogue. Over half of Lander students chose to buoy up the prudence that dry campus is the best territory. The bull’s eye is not the under-or-of-age alteration. Instead, keeping in good shape of precautions always delivers the best promise. The think-before-ask mindset, nevertheless, won’t be old hat as long as people have a sense of sobriety.