Smarter alcohol policies, not bans, should be instituted at Spring Break destinations


Spring Break is a time for relaxation and fun, and for some college students, partying.

Party culture in America is fueled exponentially by alcohol consumption, causing popular Spring Break locations to ban the tradition. But is banning alcohol enough to curve wild escapades?

In 2015, the Panama City Beach council decided in a unanimous 5-0 vote to ban alcohol consumption on their beaches. Since PCB is known as a very attractive Spring Break destination, especially for college students like the ones here at UK, there was much discord among vacationers and business owners alike.

Should Spring Break cities ban alcohol on their beaches to protect the vacationers and citizens alike? It might seem like the ban will help, but considering how young the people actually are, banning alcohol on beaches will do nothing to stop the debauchery.

From public fights to indecent exposure, partying on Spring Break beaches has become a cult culture for college kids looking to have a memorable (or not so memorable) time. Locals have dealt with Spring-Breakers for years, and in the case of PCB, they have reacted. 

Safety is one of the main arguments brought up in support of the alcohol bans. Binge drinking while on break is a common trend with many dangers.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, about half of college students who drink do so through binge drinking, and it accounts for 1,825 college kid deaths per year. While not all of these deaths occur during Spring Break, a healthy amount could be avoided if students made better choices with alcohol while on break.

Food science freshman Michaela McFarland said safety should be a key component of Spring Break, and said a ban is unfair to people who just want to have a few leisurely drinks and enjoy their vacations.

“It’s a really hard thing to do because most people’s whole reasoning for going to places like (PCB) is because (they) are expecting to have alcohol on the beach,” McFarland said. “If not, then it’s just going to be a huge problem.”

UK is no stranger to the effects of binge drinking on college students. State Street in recent years has featured the debauchery of UK students during the NCAA Tournament, as students and UK fans will commonly set fire to household items and party in the streets.

Instead of continuing to have a dry campus, President Eli Capilouto loosened alcohol policies, realizing that the prior ban was only pushing alcohol use outside of campus and not stopping people from drinking.

The same situation could possibly happen in PCB and on other beaches that decide to ban alcohol during Spring Break, as anyone interested in drinking will find a way to do so.

There are bars up and down the coastline that don’t close until 2 a.m., giving Spring-Breakers opportunities to get drunk before heading to the beach. In doing so, this could create a larger amount of people driving drunk in order to get to the beach.

Banning alcohol on beaches does little to curve the reckless activity that happens on Spring Break. College students are going to party in their own ways, drinking as they please.

In situations like this, it’s more important to look at the culture of Spring Break and hold students, and citizens, accountable for their actions — rather than blaming alcohol.

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