College Bans Alcoholic Energy Drink

by Nathan Harden

Booze with extra buzz is now banned at Ramapo College, according to CBS news:

After an alarming spike in student alcohol poisoning cases, Ramapo College administrators are banning the alcoholic energy drink known as Four Loko.

The ban comes after 16 students having been hospitalized with at least half of dozen involving the drink known by the nicknames “liquid cocaine” and “blackout in a can,” reports CBS 2 HD’s Kathryn Brown.

Ramapo College President Peter Mercer says his administration is worried about the high alcohol drink’s emergence on campuses…

The drink comes in a 23.5 ounce can and is equal to drinking three beers, a can of Red Bull and a shot of espresso. Many of the Four Loko flavors contain 12 percent alcohol by volume, making it easy for those with even the highest level of tolerance to become intoxicated.

“Four Loko” sounds so classy, doesn’t it? You’ve got to admire the concept behind this product. When it’s late at night and you are trying to study, and you are too tired to keep your eyes open, there’s nothing like an energy drink with the alcoholic equivalent of three beers to keep you sharp! Interested readers will be especially pleased to know that Four Loko comes in a variety of fruit flavors, all of which undoubtedly taste like cough syrup.

More to the point though, I’d like to know how exactly is it possible for a college to “ban” a legal beverage on its campus? The college itself isn’t selling the stuff. Students, are, presumably, purchasing it off-campus. I don’t see how the college expects to prevent students from bringing it back to their dorms, so long as they are of legal drinking age. This strikes me as an example of the liberal nanny-state mentality in action. These college administrators, like so many, seem unaware that there are limits to their authority.

Furthermore, administrators shouldn’t blame the beverage; they should blame the students. If Ramapo students had self-control, they wouldn’t be blacking out like Vegas acid trippers in a Hunter S. Thompson story.

I understand the urge to try to keep students out of danger. By all means: Warn students. Preach to them. Knock some sense into them. Do what you will. But at some point (in this case, I would say at age 21), you have to yield students the right and responsibility to care for themselves — the right to drink whatever legal beverage they want to. They may fail, they may even harm themselves, but that is a risk that liberty requires.

I am not a believer in hardcore libertarianism. But I do believe in holding adults accountable for their own actions. I suppose I would be more comfortable with a university banning alcohol altogether, rather than cherry-picking one brand that’s okay while saying another isn’t. The micromanagement bothers me. When it comes to alcohol and drugs, the government may be in the business of forcibly protecting us from ourselves, but I do not think that is the proper role of a university.

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