Staff Editorial: Moderation, not prohibition, the real solution

At Geneseo, and college campuses across the country, binge drinking has become a dangerous presence. While recent calls for a "cracking down" on the habit here are well intentioned, they would require the law to tighten limitations on all underage drinking, and therein lies the problem.

Americans have a generally reactionary nature: terror, drugs and sex have all been targeted, but alcohol use in particular has been vehemently singled out.

The reality of the situation is that at college some students drink, regardless of legal status. It's an accepted, though not proud aspect of American culture.

It's fair to say that by the time most students graduate, their drinking habits have scaled back from the inexperienced, excited weekends as a freshman. By graduation, most have mastered the desire to drink and have matured to the point where enjoying alcohol doesn't resemble one of Bacchus' orgies.

This isn't always the case, however, and we have seen that excessive drinking can lead to tragedy. Evidently, changes must be made.

The precepts of our frightened culture dictate that the way to stop senseless death is to demonize alcohol and keep it out of students' hands. Forbidding alcohol had the opposite effect of our country's goal in the past; why would the effect of prohibition on our campus be otherwise?

In contrast, perhaps our society's ideology regarding alcohol is to blame. Students binge drink now because they can't legally drink in moderation; by reducing access to alcohol, how will we learn to drink responsibly, socially and carefully?

We won't. It would be wiser to promote safe drinking habits instead of making alcohol the forbidden fruit. Students will drink regardless of circumstance - the only thing the community can influence is students' self-awareness and education. By restricting alcohol consumption, students will only drink more often in secret, perpetuating the exclusively American tradition of college binge drinking. This will further encourage student hesitation to seek necessary aid for fear of harsher ramifications.

In short, the response to Geneseo's recent tragedy should be not be so quick and shortsighted as to demonize alcohol further in the public mind. Rather, the solution is a shift toward a greater and less glamorized understanding of alcohol among our youth.