There has been a tremendous amount of talk around alcohol consumption recently, and rightfully so. With the tragic death of Erica Buschick and the 21 hospitalizations last week, Miami has received a wakeup call when it comes to drinking culture. Yet, while everyone points out that there is a problem, the one aspect that seems to rarely come up is the solution.

Yes, I agree that our college drinking culture should change and that students should be more responsible, but will that really happen?

Unfortunately, probably not. It’s just like the old saying: “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.” So, when we are emailed official statements warning of high alcohol consumption and the dangers of binge drinking, they tend to be extremely ineffective.

But when it comes down to the real issue — that students simply drink irresponsibly — the go-to solution for the administrators and law enforcement is to pursue an authoritarian stance against drinking. While having more police out at night does scare some people away from their usual weekend festivities, for most students this method of prohibition doesn’t shift the balance on the risk-reward scale.

Especially since college is a time when individuals tend to embrace their youth and individual liberties before they are restricted to the mundane cycle of a working, adult life, this is an era where telling students “no” comes off more so as a challenge instead of a rule.

So, if the scare tactics don’t work, how do we keep students safe on campus? The best way to accomplish this is with one simple word: friends. From what I have observed and experienced, the best way to make responsible drinking decisions is to have good friends.

Good friends aren’t just people who like to have a good time, but those who look out for each other and make sure everyone in the group is safe. It’s a two-way street when it comes to friendship and drinking. You can’t just rely on having good friends, you must be one.

Instead of thinking about what bar or party will be the next destination, good friends make sure the group stays together. Instead of searching for someone to take home, good friends make sure their friends get home at the end of the night. Instead of trying to impress others with the amount they can drink, good friends make sure their friends aren’t drinking past their limit.

Good friends keep others and themselves safer, and if we all could have friends who cared about our safety when it comes to drinking, I believe that the number of alcohol-related incidents would greatly decrease.

However, there comes a point where no matter how wonderful your friends are, no matter how much they watch over you, personal responsibility will be the ultimate factor when it comes to being safe and smart in our very-college town.

stemmlmf@miamioh.edu

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