Spring brewskis: our fountain of college learning


March 11, 1991|By ROGER SIMON

Just because a college education is expensive does not mean it is worth much.

We all know that a college degree no longer guarantees you a job, for instance.

It used to guarantee you a certain amount of status -- the ability to say, "I are a college graduate," at a party was worth something -- but even that has now faded.

The kids today who did not go to college, but went into the volunteer army instead, are now heroes. And they are going to whatever jobs there are and have all the good-looking dates when they get back from the Persian Gulf.

So what role does this leave for college? What good can college still do you?

It can teach you how to drink.

I know this not only from my own experiences, but it has recently been confirmed by the Surgeon General's Office and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

College kids, it seems, get drunk more than their non-college counterparts. Some 41 percent of all college kids engage in "binge" drinking (five drinks at one sitting), compared to 34 percent of non-college kids.

I know what many college students are saying: "Sure we drink more, but that's because we are under more pressure."

To which I must sadly respond: Just wait until after graduation when you enter something known as "the real world." Then you will learn about pressure.

According to Surgeon General Antonia C. Novello, the nation's 12 million college students drink 4 billion cans of beer each year.

And they spend more on beer than they do on books.

This should not surprise us, but I took my own survey of college students to find out why.


1. When beers are overdue, the library does not fine you.

2. Beers have no subplots or foreshadowing.

3. You can't chug-a-lug a book.


1. No need to refrigerate.



My evidence is only anecdotal, but I know that colleges actually teach beer drinking. When I entered college, I could not finish a whole bottle of beer. When I left college, I could not put one down without finishing it.

One reason Dr. Novello released her report last week urging college kids to drink less is to head off the spring break madness that will soon occur all over America.

This is when college kids, bored with drinking in their own towns, drive hundreds of miles to drink in somebody else's town.

I did this once. My roommate and I drove to Fort Lauderdale for spring break. Today, my roommate is a very respectable newsman at a very respectable newspaper and would be horrified if I used his real name (Carl Schwartz, news editor of The Milwaukee Journal) so I'll just call him Mr. X.

Mr. X and I drove down to Fort Lauderdale in 1969. When we hit town, I remember saying: "How about we get a couple of brewskis?"

And the next thing I remember is waking up in Cuernavaca, Mexico. I was dressed like Long John Silver. And Ronald Reagan had just been elected to his second term.

Kids today are much more sophisticated, of course. At Dr. Novello's press conference, Bobby Heard, a college student from Texas, testified as to what goes on during spring break these days. He explained how the Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission videotaped spring break at South Padre Island in Texas last year.

"The video, which would easily have been rated X by the Motion Picture Association, showed continual drinking on the beach, intoxicated couples having sex in hot tubs, male strippers and three intoxicated young women providing a complete strip show from their fourth-floor hotel balcony to a crowd of about 250 drunk students," Heard said.

It may have occurred to you that it is illegal everywhere in America to buy or possess alcohol if you are under 21 and that most college students are under the age of 21.

So how do they get the alcohol? It is, I imagine, because the "Bar-Top Rule" is still in effect. That rule states that if your head is visible over the top of the bar, then you are certainly old enough to order a drink. And Dr. Novello estimates that one-half of all college students engage in underage drinking.

"Use restraint, use common sense and please find better, more creative ways to have fun," Dr. Novello urged the college kids of America.

But if you had restraint, common sense and creativity, why would you be in college at all?

I think this needs further study. And this spring I intend to do some.

And if you would like to reach me and give me your insight into this national problem, please come by my hot tub on South Padre Island.

I'll be the guy with the parrot on his shoulder.

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