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‘Dear Prudence’ on Prudence and Campus Drinking

Last week Emily Yoffe, a.k.a. “Dear Prudence” at Slate, tackled binge drinking on college campuses and its most troubling repercussion — sexual assaults on overly intoxicated young women. She went ahead and declared what we all know, but too few are willing to say — especially in academic circles. 

Let’s be totally clear: Perpetrators are the ones responsible for committing their crimes, and they should be brought to justice. But we are failing to let women know that when they render themselves defenseless, terrible things can be done to them. Young women are getting a distorted message that their right to match men drink for drink is a feminist issue. The real feminist message should be that when you lose the ability to be responsible for yourself, you drastically increase the chances that you will attract the kinds of people who, shall we say, don’t have your best interest at heart. That’s not blaming the victim; that’s trying to prevent more victims.

Despite what you may think, it’s not coeds being slipped date-rape drugs that is the big problem. In about 80 percent of sexual assaults on college campuses, alcohol was a factor. Sometimes the young men are also intoxicated (which they use as an excuse), but there are also predators who either ply a target with loaded drinks or simply find the girl who has had far too much.

She adds that since there are also about 1,800 college fatalities per year linked to alcohol, universities need to get serious about underage drinking, or at the very least, bingeing. For example, instead of caving to the extended weekend by lightening class schedules on Fridays (resulting in Thursday night overindulgence) colleges should load Fridays (and I would say Mondays, too) with not just class sessions, but exams, quizzes, and deadlines.

But I think we should go beyond simply warning our college students about the pitfalls of overimbibing. As the ones footing the bills, parents should research a prospective school’s policies on alcohol and sexual assault. And if we find them lacking, we should not be afraid to walk away from that institution — and let the administration know why. Or if we select a school that has lax policies, we should not be afraid to speak up to officials to demand sensible protective and preventive measures to keep our children safe.

Read more here.


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