Alcohol policy brings new challenges

Jon Horbelt - Staff Writer

Let me begin this article by saying that this is not a condemnation of Quinnipiac University, its students or faculty. As another school year begins, I can’t help but be reminded of the years past and the problems that have arose, namely the issue of under age drinking and the effects it has caused on the town of Hamden and the University.
The fact of the matter is that three people have died in alcohol related incidents last year alone, the year before a police officer was seriously injured by a drunk driver leaving a party at Quinnipiac and another person was hit leaving an off-campus party crossing Whitney Avenue.
In my opinion the University is not doing enough to combat this problem. Sure, they don’t condone this behavior and have banned on-campus drinking, but I believe that is where the problem begins.
In today’s society, the average child has had their first taste of alcohol at the age of eleven, ten years before the legal limit, and college binge drinking is at an all-time high. It’s obvious that under age drinking is a reality whether people want to realize it or not, the question is what to do about it.
In my opinion, banning on-campus drinking is the last thing that should be done. By banning underage drinking, one actively forces under age students to go outside the university to drink. This is where the problem starts.
While the university offers a shuttle service around Hamden, it does not travel to popular New Haven nightspots, and students are forced to drive there. No one likes to be the designated driver and stay sober for a night, so students have a couple drinks and think that if they stop an hour before they are supposed to leave, they will be competent enough to drive themselves and their friends home.
Studies have shown that if people have three drinks, it takes three hours for them to adequately process the alcohol through their bodies and regain proper motor skills and competence to operate a motor vehicle. Where do we go from here?
I believe that bars need to be more concerned with people’s safety and turn away people with blatantly fake i.d.’s instead of trying to make another dollar, and the same goes for package stores. Ultimately I believe the university should lift the ban on “on campus drinking.” The reason I believe this has a twofold answer: 1) students do not have to drive all around town drunk on their way home 2) the university can monitor all parties and social gatherings and underage drinkers don’t have to worry about certain consequences, such as being arrested, and if they are caught on campus, dealt with not harshly but conservatively by the university. Underage drinking must be controlled, but handled as the reality it is to minimize the damage done to both the students and the community.
While it is obvious that underage drinking is a problem not only in this town but throughout the nation, I hope Quinnipiac will seriously consider its stance on certain issues concerning the wellfare not only of its students, but the town of Hamden as well. I feel for the families and friends that have been effected by this epidemic and until the university handles this issue accordingly, I will drive home at night a little more paranoid of getting hit by someone that does not belong behind the wheel of a car.