The marriage between alcohol consumption and college life has long been accepted as the norm within the confines of campus existence. However, the past decade has marked a period in time when violent outbreaks and campus riots are being attributed more and more to teen alcohol abuse, rendering it illegal on several major school grounds. Even though such alcohol restrictions represent a potential answer to the problem, they are also causing even more riotous behavior inasmuch as students contend their rights are being violated by the limitation.
The issue at hand is not casual social drinking but a phenomenon known as binge drinking. Teens who choose to imbibe do so without considering the detrimental effects of such heavy consumption, rendering them volatile and defiant when authorities are summoned to calm down a situation that has become out of hand. That binge drinking “is dangerous; it’s a problem to protest, not a right to defend” (Anonymous, 1998, p. 26A) brings to light yet another detrimental impact of teen drug abuse.
The 1990’s heralded in a new kind of teenage college student who does not take kindly to authority figures, frequently utilizing alcohol as the means by which to call forth the courage necessary to defy it. Teen alcohol abuse has become far too common in colleges across the country. A combination of “youthful self-indulgence and fearlessness” (Anonymous, 1998, p. 26A) has been to blame for the recent rash of alcohol-related campus riots. Teenage college students have become “more aggressive and less respectful” (Stockwell, 2001). Attributing many problems to teen drug use, police and on-site campus authorities have said that they are having a significantly more difficult time controlling alcohol-related behavior before it escalates to riotous activity. In one semester alone, five separate campuses fell victim to seven immense parties that ultimately ended up transforming into violent riots as a result of teen alcohol abuse.
Campus protests are nothing new; indeed, the 1960’s reflected the birthplace of radical appeals, civil rights marches and a number of other demonstrations. However, in spite of how violent these historical protests might have become, they always had a cause behind the fervor, a concept that has been lost on today’s alcohol-related riots. The 1990’s spawned a new type of retaliation — one that occurs for no other reason than because students feel antagonistic toward authority figures. It has come to pass that this is the decade where alcohol “fuels the most newsworthy student uprisings” (Anonymous, 1998, p. 26A). Teen alcohal abuse has led to Such unproductive uprisings on some of the most prestigious university campuses, namely Michigan State University, Washington State University and Penn State.
The blatant display of inappropriate, and illegal behaviors have many campus authorities extremely concerned with the direction such conduct is headed. No longer are students content with attending parties, participating in responsible social drinking and then going about their studies. In the 1990’s, college students demonstrated a tremendous defiance toward any kind of authority figure, often taking to physical means as a way to signify their rebellion. Said East Lansing police Capt. Stephen Chubb: “I don’t know what it’s like at the other universities, but here at MSU, the entire community has become concerned” (Stockwell, 2001). It has not been uncommon to find bottles and rocks being hurled at police officers, rendering many of them – as well as innocent bystanders – injured in the alcohol-related riotous outbursts.
The relative newness of disrespect toward law enforcement has authorities puzzled with regard to its intensity. While protests of the 1960’s often transpired into tussles between teens and police, there was still little resemblance to the outright defiance toward this particular social entity. Indeed, there is an underlying basis to the foundation of such insolence, which has inadvertently and reluctantly pushed some the country’s most notable institutions of higher education into the limelight.
“We’ve noticed this year … more and more people have in-your-face attitudes than ever. I think it’s people taking advantage of kind of an anonymous situation. They go in there looking for fun, and when it gets to a certain pitch, they can get away with anything. And they’re getting away with it” (Stockwell, 2001).