Overconsumption of alcohol, drugs and other dangerous substances is a long-standing issue in college environments. I came to Elon University with the perception that substance culture is not an accurate reflection of Elon’s standards. Rather, I thought it persisted as the unfortunate minority.
But what I found when I arrived at Elon is that issues of alcohol and drugs were apparent in the broader social spectrum of the campus. Recently, Elon’s local bar and coffee shop The Oak House was exposed for selling an alcoholic drink to a minor on at least one occasion.
Since, owner Phil Smith has confirmed staffing changes and plans to better educate staff on serving alcohol in order to prevent future mistakes.
Still, this indicates that underage drinking quite prevalent on campus and off.
There may be some who are ready to dismiss the issue as a singular occurrence, a case of poor judgment on the part of the bartender.
But by refusing to tackle the subject of substance abuse potential head-on, we encourage the same sort of behavior, only with offenders taking more care not to get caught.
Collegiate substance abuse is a serious problem and one that is not strictly confined to Elon.
Wesleyan University of Middletown, Connecticut made news during the past two weeks as 11 students were hospitalized for drug overdose. Although most of these students have since been treated, four students were charged with providing access to various mixtures of narcotics and prescription drugs the students took.
While it may seem rash to draw a direct comparison between a single instance of selling alcohol to a minor and the hospitalization of 11 students, the possibility exists that substance culture at Elon could someday become as prevalent a threat as it is at Wesleyan.
Of course, Elon has taken numerous measures during the past few years to curb the issue of substance abuse on campus. One of the most prevalent is AlcoholEdu, a training program for alcohol safety that has been a requirement for incoming freshmen and transfer students since 2007.
In addition, the program BASICS (Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students) is an option for students to examine the role of alcohol in their lives in order to reduce risk of abuse. The university’s “Substance Education” page has many other important facts and resources on the various types of substance abuse and how to prevent them. Clearly, there are services that are available to students that are there to educate us on safe behavior. Still, what matters is how we apply what is taught by these services in our everyday lives.
It’s the equal responsibility of all Elon citizens to maintain public safety for everyone, and as such, we are all to blame for the persistence of substance culture, especially among minors. While it may be easy to let the university handle substance education, those programs are practically meaningless if we treat even a single breach of the rules as if it were nothing.