Thursday, February 16, 2006

Hello...we're UGA....and we're alcoholics

Hi, UGA!

UGA Police Chief Jimmy Williamson is vowing to crack down on gameday drinking. Meetings are being held to address the "campus drinking culture". Meanwhile, Prez Adams sits on his high horse and calls gameday fans' behavior "despicable."

Is there a crisis here? Are things worse than say, I don't know, they've always been? Or is this just normal college town culture?

I'm not convinced either way. I think there is absolutely an epidemic of underage drinking, DUIs, and of course outrageous gameday behavior (by more than just students, btw), but I'm not necessarily sure that it's gotten any worse, or that whether or not it has, anything can be done about it on any kind of a permanent basis now, short of becoming a dry county.

Not to kill the PPA open thread, and if the comments there keep coming my co-editor should feel free to yank that back to the top of the page, but I would like to hear some thoughts on this. Tell us if you think there's a serious problem, and if so, what can be done about it.


hillary said...

Wouldn't use of word "epidemic" imply that it's spreading? The problem in the university's view is not so much the drinking as the national newsmedia noticing it, I would guess.

Publius said...

Totally epidemic...except in the myriad ways that it isn't. Let's face it, drinking to excess has been a problem ever since the invention of booze and the invention of college.

Every few years there's an unfortunate alcohol-related incident, and whoever happens to be in charge at UGA looks very concerned and talks about the "drinking culture" or whatever the phrase du jour is. It's silly. There's just no substitute for personal responsibility, which very few college freshmen have. Heaven knows I didn't.

More to the point, short of making all of NE Georgia dry, there's not a damn thing anyone can do to make sure that irresponsible college kids don't go drinking themselves to death. Sounds harsh, I know, but it is what it is. When you're 18 years old, it doesn't matter how many times you hear that drankin is bad, you're 18, you're independent and you're invincible.

When you've got some 30,000 college students and alcohol for the getting, bad things are bound to happen. So I guess as a community, we've got two options: we can bring back the 18th Amendment (since it worked so well last time), or we can all take some personal responsibility for ourselves and our kids, if we have them.

DoubleDawgDareYa said...

Hillary: probably right on both counts; I guess what I really meant is "there's a lot of it going on."

And my co-editor, well, he's pretty much right too, as he usually is.

Adrian said...

President Adams is hardly in a position to speak on this since the administration has condoned bad gameday behavior by allowing football activity to have such a high priority that other activities are displaced. Specifically, the administration has gone as far as to make dorm students leave town and not allow students to park near libraries on game days, which says the games are more important than anything else.

Anonymous said...

I recall at least some dorm residents being kicked out of their parking spaces on game weekends in the 1980's, so that concept isn't Adams administration-specific.

Ned said...

I think this issue falls under what I label as the two types of "responsibility". The first one is the one ACC and Williamson are pushing right now - you break the law so we are gonna punish you. The other type of responsibility involves making people aware of the risks they are taking and trying to minimize the danger they put themselves and the people around them in.

I don't think the problems UGA is facing are going to be solved by enforcing the first definition I gave for responsibility. Trying to turn students into criminals isn't going to make UGA a better place to learn or turn Athens into a safer place to live.

I think the second type of responsibility could do a lot to educate students and make Athens safer. I think we should let UGA students who aren't 21 drink at bars downtown, but let's give them some nice rules that will help them learn to drink properly.

Here is what I would like to see:

1 - Students in with good grades/attendance should be given a special UGA ID card that allows them to get into bars downtown. When these students by drinks at bars the ID should be scanned into the cash register and the bartender needs to enter the drink the student is being served. (It would be relatively easy to set up a system like this and limit how much a student can drink during the week. We have wireless internet downtown, why don't we actually use it for something innovative!!)

2 - If you are going to be drinking, you can't drive downtown. We should have more busses and taxis, as well as promoting the construction of apartment buildings downtown in order to make it easy and safe for students to get downtown without doing anything stupid.

3 - If you are feeling sick come to the Alcohol help center. It would be very easy to set up a location downtown where students have drank too much and aren't feeling well can go and get the proper attention they need. If a service like this had existed in Athens I can imagine it would have saved a few lives over the years.

Quite a few countries have a lower drinking age than America without all of the problems that we seem to have here. When I went to school in Japan they were much less strict when it came to enforcing liquor laws and professors were encouraged to drink with students from time to time.

I really think that UGA, ACC, and the students can all come together and work out an agreement that gives students under 21 a little bit more freedom while making sure they learn how to drink responsibly. I can see students being more than happy to let UGA know where they are drinking and how much they were consuming as long as they didn't feel like they were going to be punished for it.

It may just be my way of thinking, but problems like this are easier to manage than they are to solve. We aren't going to stop underage drinking at UGA, but we can sure as hell make it a lot safer.

Patrick Armstrong said...

There is nothing in this world more dedicated to a task than an underage drinker.

I lived and worked in Creswell Hall during the chaos of the late 90's. We had our own 'neighborhood pub' on the infamous 4th floor. We'd finish a fifth of whiskey a day, and then go out drinking at parties. During the '97-'98 school year, a student was carted out of the dorm to a waiting ambulance almost every two weeks. They'd flash the 'thumbs up' to rousing applause from the patio audience. We all had our parking spaces stolen on gamedays in the fall.

As I get older, I find I have become the alumni who crashes the Classic City on game weekend and steals parking spaces from students. But my people's tailgating has actually become pretty tame. My friends are older now, and some are parents, most of us have 'real jobs' and you can't recover from a hangover with two cups of coffee from Blue Sky or a box of chicken fingers from Guthrie's anymore.

The kids today are no worse than I was, and I was no worse than they were before me. Same as it ever was.

Such is the price of mixing a population of 18-20 year olds with a population of 21-24 year olds in close proximity when only half of them can legally buy alcohol but they're all friends.

Prohibition proved that the harder you clamp down and the more rules you make, the more rules are going to get broken. The University and Athens have always talked loud about 'doing something' about the 'epidemic' of underage jackassery.

DoubleDawgDareYa said...

Ok, fair enough, you guys convinced me. It's just the same ol', same ol', nothing to worry about.

I will offer one fairly obvious fix for the gameday situation specifically: stop having so many night games. The tailgating starts at 9 am no matter when the game starts, and folks are some kinda lit for those 7:30 kickoffs.

But of course college football is a big business run by tv these days, so that suggestion has no chance of being followed. Oh well.

Besides, hypocrite that I am, I'll admit that I like it when the Dawgs are on ESPN on Sat. night.

Patrick Armstrong said...

Didn't we only have one Athens night game last year? That was Auburn. We played Mississippi State, Georgia Tech, LSU and West Virginia at night, but none of those games were played in Athens.

I may be wrong, but the last time I remember us having two night games was in 2001 (South Carolina and Auburn in Athens at night).

I also think that SEC or CBS contracts actually prevent too many night games on any specific campus, but I could be wrong on that one, too.

DoubleDawgDareYa said...

Boise State was at 5:30, so I would count that as two. It also seems like we've had multiple night games in other seasons more recently than that, but I could be wrong. In 2004, for example, we played LSU, Tennessee, and Georgia Tech in Athens. I don't remember the times; it may be that both LSU and Tennessee were 3:30 CBS games (which is late enough in its own right).

If you're right on the contract thing, then nevermind.

Jmac said...

Both Boise State and South Caroline were at 5:30 p.m. on ESPN2, but that was more because of the heat rather than TV. Both games were of interest to television, but they had already set a later kickoff anyway.

Typically Georgia plays at least one night game a year, and it's a 'big' deal. Stems back to Vince Dooley not wanting to have folks drive back too late. In 2004, it's hard to think of a home night game though since all of the games you mentioned DiDDY were CBS games at 3:30 p.m.

I remember back when I was in school in 1997, right after beating Florida (ah ... good times), ESPN wanted to make Georgia-Auburn their marquee night game, and Dooley didn't want that so they split the difference and it went on at, like, 5:45 p.m. or something. Same thing with Auburn in 1999 (the awful Ben-Leard-is-the-second-coming-of-John-Elway game).

As far as contracts that Patrick mentioned, I don't know. Maybe it varies school to school since LSU plays an absurd amount of night games.

Patrick Armstrong said...

Got home from work, did some research: Athletic Director Damon Evans answers this one.

"Why does Georgia not have night games?

"Television plays a big part in what time we play games. I know a lot of people have concerns about that, but the Southeastern Conference has television contracts with CBS, ESPN, Jefferson-Pilot and so forth. Because of those contracts each particular media entity has the right or the opportunity to pick particular games and we are held to that as a member of the conference. The reason that we have not had as many night games is that we have an Athletic Board rule that we will only play so many night games. But that rule has not come into play due to the fact that when you have success like have enjoyed recently, CBS which normally has the first pick of all the games (typically a 3:30 pm kick-off), has picked Georgia more in recent years than any other school in the Southeastern Conference."

That would explain part of where I got the contract idea, but the actual rules governing our night games come from self-regulation that has been in effect for several years. Which is noteworthy to this discussion thread.

LSU obviously does not have the same regulations... But LSU also has a long history of famous night games, so it is tradition for them.

raven said...

The South Carolina game may not have been a night game but it sure got over at night. I witnessed an incredibly nasty incident in front of the Chinese joint across from the Arches. A cop was issuing a ticket to a drunken idiot for an open container and the kid ended up on the deck with his head split open after his buddies tried to spring him by jumping the cop. I was amazed at how this crowd of Izod wearing republicans turned on the cop. My issue with the University is that making what is illegal 360 days a year legal for football Saturdays helps make these kinds of situations inevitable. How can someone who has been drinking legally all day on one side of Broad Street supposed figure out that it isn't legal on the other side? It's bs.