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Students'drinks dry up
Published 8/30/2012 6:00:00 AM
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All signs indicate a college campus provides the perfect combination of factors to support an alcohol-induced disaster zone. Now with the passage of Initiative 1183, the signs are even more apparent.

Take thousands of underage or barely-legal students, pack them into the same community with minimal supervision, ample free time and plenty of alcohol, and you’d expect to see quite the show.

But, in reality the effects of I-1183 have not brought nearly as much drama as predicted. Many citizens regarded the passage of the initiative with much trepidation, but I’m here to give it to you straight.

The privatization of liquor sales has created virtually no negative backlash on the WSU campus.

The fears of increased drinking turned out to be completely unfounded, and in actuality students with enough determination will find the means to obtain alcohol no matter the challenge.

Those returning to Pullman for yet another semester of scholarly immersion, independent living and overall debauchery, may have noticed the drastic change that has swept through the WSU party-scene in the form of I-1183. The measure, which took effect June 1, allowed private businesses instead of state-run liquor stores to sell hard alcohol.

Edwin Hamada, WSU director of residence life, asked his staff if they noticed any changes in the quantity and magnitude of alcohol-related incidences in the dorm throughout the past two weeks compared to the previous year. Their response indicates the fears surrounding the implementation of I-1183 have been exaggerated.

“The (residence hall directors) have not seen any noticeable changes in alcohol consumption in the halls compared to last year,” Hamada said.

This pattern isn’t restricted to small communities. Even on a larger scale, the ease with which alcohol can be obtained doesn’t directly correlate with the amount that will be consumed.

For instance, Pennsylvania has the tightest grip in the country when it comes to sales of liquor, wine and beer.

Opponents of I-1183 would assume levels of drinking-related occurrences would be lowest in Pennsylvania. But, a 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed the state ranks slightly worse than average regarding underage drinking and binge drinking.

Clearly, state control over the distribution of alcohol does not cut down on the consumption or the abuse of alcohol, and Pennsylvania is a prime example.

A major factor in this phenomenon is when alcohol is easier to come by, people don’t feel the need to go crazy at the liquor store. State-run liquor stores, however, have the exclusive purpose of forcing the thirsty masses to go out of their way to obtain booze.

In order to reduce the frequency of this chore, customers, especially the busy and car-deprived college students, stock up on their preferred spirits all at once. This often leads to over-drinking, high intoxication, and bad decision making.

Though it may seem counter-intuitive, I’m convinced the ability to buy liquor at a normal grocery store actually encourages moderation. Customers now approach buying liquor with the same attitude they apply to buying ordinary groceries. They will be back in a week or two, so there is no reason to go overboard. I’d argue that though purchases of alcohol are more frequent in this scenario, the amount purchased in each transaction is much smaller.

I feel it’s also fair to point out that massive amounts of underage drinking will happen on a college campus regardless of where the liquor is purchased.

Cougars, as a general student population, are truly exceptional at a few things. Some of our fortes include dressing for the winter, veterinary medicine, climbing hills and most importantly drinking. I’m not implying I support excessive or underage drinking, but I accept it as a reality, and I-1183 will not change that fact.

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