Ritualized underage drinking


AJ McCafferty

Who created the myth that after the graduation hats go up, students are entitled to a week at the beach to drink, use drugs and have promiscuous sex? What’s even more amazing is that parents sign off on house rentals, and older siblings and friends enable this ridiculousness by buying alcohol for the underage graduates. Apparently, despite all the horror stories, no one has thought to put an end to this.

Friends of mine who are participating in Beach Week in the “traditional” way have justified their decision by saying that it’s a way to express the new freedoms that come with graduating and turning 18. Besides, partying goes on at college, and for the first time in many of their lives, they’re not leaving the preparation until the last minute. Others argue that it’s a chance to get everything out of their system before they go off to college, or a last chance to hang out with all of their high school friends before going separate ways.

Interestingly enough, I’ve never heard anyone say that they want to go because it’s a really fun thing to do. Maybe because the fun goes away when you’re in the hospital getting your injuries stitched up or having your stomach pumped so that you can live to drink another day.

The sad thing is what this says about our generation. Why, when we have this newfound freedom, do we choose to demonstrate that we really still need our parents looking over our shoulders to make sure we don’t kill ourselves? We flaunt the influence of our Jersey Shore-Paris Hilton-True Life culture as if it’s a positive thing to find this kind of behavior acceptable. Ironically, our parents have either decided that it’s acceptable as well, or that they’re so intent on being their kids’ friend that they are willing to let it go. If my child engaged in this kind of behavior, I wouldn’t pay for him or her to go to college because he or she would have demonstrated that after 18 years of education, he or she never got an ounce of common sense.

This is not to say that I am against drinking alcohol. I’ve traveled through Europe and China, where alcohol consumption is a part of the culture from a much younger age. Certainly some people abuse it and get drunk, but these people are mostly looked down upon. It shows immaturity and short sightedness, as if that is the last night they will ever be able to drink. Even worse, American teenagers are so intent on getting drunk that they don’t even bother to make good drinks with all of the vodkas, gins, rums and other liquors that they buy. Our beer thrones are made from cases of cheap, light beer that, despite what the advertising claims, still taste awful especially when compared to some of the really fine brews made in Germany, Belgium and England.

Unfortunately, the mentality that seniors deserve Beach Week is becoming more ingrained in our minds, which only shows how self-entitled and self-centered our culture has become. In actuality, it is only a small portion of the graduating seniors who engage in this disgusting tradition. Everyone else is working to pay for college, getting ahead in their career with a good internship or doing something productive with their money like traveling to a foreign country or saving up for a year abroad. Between the money spent on the house, food, alcohol and eventual repairs for possible damage and hospital bills, you could put a down payment on a car or pay the first month’s rent of an apartment. Remind me again why we decide to blow it all on a week we’ll be too inebriated to even remember?