UK needs to refine its zero-tolerance alcohol education practices


Kernel Opinion SIG

Amy Tesfayesus

College students are all too familiar with a time when sex education wasn’t an education at all. The abstinence-only sex-ed, which was only recently somewhat redacted, taught us that if you have sex, you will get pregnant. End of story.

Many articles exist about the ignorance of, and issues with, this methodology. Abstinence-only education was widely ineffective, and something needed to change. Students were still experimenting, but instead of being equipped with proper, useful information, they were meshing together bits and pieces of what they heard from media and one another to produce misconceptions about what you should and shouldn’t do regarding sex.

As a society, we had to make peace with the fact that if adolescents wanted to have sex, they would have sex— so we decided to take the route of equipping them with the information they needed to make it as safe as possible.

Drug and alcohol policies are the abstinence-only sex education of the present. Our education is centered around the dangers of drinking don’t drink and drive, don’t drink jungle juice, this is how you measure a standard drink of beer/wine/liquor, keep drinks to a maximum of one drink per hour to keep up with the metabolic power of your liver. This is all good and important advice, but the fact of the matter is that students will drink the jungle juice, they won’t carve out the time or effort to make sure they’re measuring their drinks properly and they won’t drink just one standard drink an hour.

As a freshman moving into a dorm, I remember the first hall meeting I attended where we were told that if we were too drunk to have a conversation, “Don’t let us see it,” leaving drunk students stumbling up to their rooms in the inadequate care of a roommate or friend who was drunk themselves or didn’t know what they were doing.

Considering recent events, there has also been an attack on Greek life, which confuses me as a Greek woman myself. It was always the mandated alcohol education events I was required to go to through my sorority, or the risk presentations at our meetings that reminded me exactly how to be smart with alcohol what type of food you should be eating before going out, using caution with mixers that are carbonated because they make you drunk faster, drinking in cold weather can trick you into thinking you’re less drunk than you are and more.

Students will bode well with information that they can access without thinking about it, like how to properly fuel their bodies and how to avoid unplanned excess intoxication.

This is the only kind of education that is knowledgeable and realistic about college drinking behavior, and realistic changes are effective changes.