Opinion | Miami needs to offer more options to curb drinking culture
Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 01:09
Miami University’s rise in status as the ninth largest party school in the nation answered by a recent consolidation of Miami University and Oxford Police Departments are signs of a struggle to break down Miami’s long-entrenched culture of drinking. But are these efforts really helping the matter?
Underage drinking can be taking place anywhere on any given day – in residence halls, in off-campus houses, in apartments, in bars and restaurants, at football games. The list goes on and on, but so do the endless efforts to stop the inevitability of underage drinking.
Can an increase in police enforcement really end this deeply ingrained culture of drinking? I believe it can only change the way people drink; students will simply turn to drinking in their dorm rooms or in their friends’ homes instead of in the bars.
The only way underage drinking can be slowed, before our no. 9 position as party school in the nation gets any higher, is by presenting true alternatives to students who are just looking to have a good time.
If students don’t go out to parties, what else would they do? Besides the ‘After Dark’ program, on-campus options for late-night weekend activities are few and far between.
The ‘After Dark’ program was created to provide wholesome student entertainment on-campus, featuring games and movies. According to The Miami Report, the program uses $150,000 a year to try and accommodate students with wholesome activities.
However, these events come and go and do not take place in a location that is separate from administrative areas, an escape from academic life; it takes place within the Shriver Center. Another potential place to provide alternative entertainment is the Goggin Ice Center.
But according to Miami University’s web page for the Goggin Ice Center, the latest free skate session provided ends at 11 p.m., more than enough time to allow late skaters to still make their way up to the bars. On top of that, the Shriver Center’s Haines Food Court now closes at 10 p.m., taking away another hangout spot for students on-campus.
In my opinion, there is no coincidence that a university surrounded by farmland for at least 10 miles has such a drinking problem. Miami’s culture is often referred to as being a ‘bubble’ with low diversity, and a prominent ‘preppy,’ Greek culture. The culture is naturally reinforced, reproduced through the years without any external influence.
There is no way to escape to metropolitan destinations, no major parks or nearby places to sightsee. All there is to offer is High Street. So this makes it crucial that High Street (if not the university programs themselves) offers a wide variety of options unless you count the variety of restaurants.
Where are the uptown bowling alleys, the late-night ice cream shops, the parks? What is provided on weekend nights are bars and restaurants open late for drunken stragglers. In my eyes, no wonder there is such a drinking problem at our university.
The effort and resources used to enforce the drinking policy off- and on-campus can be better used towards creating true alternatives to drinking.
‘Going out’ is a way for students to relieve the stresses of their academic week, to meet new people and expand their social circle. And it’s no coincidence that going out would involve drinking. Just look at our campus and uptown.
What you can find on High Street are shops, restaurants, coffee shops, and frozen yogurt places, which mostly close at 10 p.m. None of these options can be argued as providing a true distraction to drinking.
The only places that are open late are bars and restaurants. The city and university can work harder towards attracting businesses that cater to student entertainment. The small movie theatre on campus only shows three movies at once and is in poor condition. Most students avoid it.
Using law enforcement to crack down on the issue of underage and excessive drinking only attacks the symptoms of a larger problem.
In no way can this be a long-term, effective solution in ending underage drinking.
A new culture, away from the mainstream partying one, must take a stronger hold. The small minority of students taking advantage of other activities such as ‘After Dark’ programs needs to grow, and more importantly, the ‘partiers’ need to see these options as a true alternative that does not involve too much sacrifice in the name of fun.