Taverns on campus College drinking: Problem goes beyond where students of legal age can buy their beer.

November 14, 1997

An editorial in the Nov. 14 editions of The Sun stated incorrectly that St. Mary's College operates a tavern on its campus. In fact, it is Mount St. Mary's College in Emmitsburg that runs an on-campus tavern.

The Sun regrets the errors.

IF YOU'RE 21 or older you can buy a beer at a pub on the campus of Salisbury State University, Johns Hopkins University or St. Mary's College.

Those Maryland academic institutions have decided one way to control student drinking is to become their bartender. Some colleges in other states have been doing that for years. Now it is Maryland schools' turn to learn that this is only a partial solution to a problem that can have fatal consequences.


Scott Krueger, 18, died last month after being found unconscious amid liquor bottles in his fraternity at the ZTC Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Benjamin Wynne, 20, died in August after passing out, along with a dozen other students, at a Louisiana State University fraternity house. Mr. Krueger had consumed five times the legal alcohol limit for drivers; Mr. Wynne had six times the limit.

A survey earlier this year indicated more than half of Maryland high school seniors had consumed alcohol at least three times in the past 30 days. Any college that thinks its drinking population is limited to students who are of legal age is deluding itself. Those under 21 who can't buy a beer at a campus pub will find other places where they can drink.

By placing taverns for students on their campuses, St. Mary's, Salisbury State and Johns Hopkins offer an alternative for responsible drinkers who don't mind being monitored and even provided escorts back to their dorms or houses if they overindulge. But many students, just like many older adults, are not responsible drinkers. Those under 21 years of age will use phony ID cards or find off-campus parties or bars where no one checks their age.

A significant factor leading to their drinking is peer pressure among college students who have left the nest to act more "adult." Sadly, they think the way to do that is to flaunt parental prohibitions. We can commiserate with St. Mary's President George Houston, who says the drinking age should be reduced to 18 to "take away some of the forbidden-fruit nature."

That's unlikely. Instead, more colleges may open campus taverns to control drinking-and-driving. They must also provide effective counseling and intervention programs to counter the peer pressure and ads that tell young people they can't have fun without a brew.

Pub Date: 11/14/97

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