'Winnie-the-Pooh' syndrome and alcohol attitudes

Shad Hashmi
Entertainment Editor

Allow me to quote Dean Gail DiSabatino, from last week's article in the Technique on alcohol policy, "The grant that we have, the goal of that grant is to change the culture." Dean Gail DiSabatino also added, "Part of what we want to do with the alcohol policy is to change the culture and try to reduce binge drinking."
After reading that quotation in the Technique, my idealistic side was touched. Student Affairs had put together a post alcohol summit task force that proposed recommendations that would try to regulate irresponsible drinking. The recommendations made by this committee were adopted; we now have an interim alcohol policy that imposes harsh penalties on students who indulge in irresponsible drinking. Thanks to Student Affairs, Georgia Tech is now one of the leaders in the battle against Binge Drinking, dominant college culture and, yes, also teen and early twenty something society as a whole.

If I was a proponent of the task force to change rampant culture, rooted for those who have been "irreparably scarred by the political correctness movement," I would be doing a jig right now. Unfortunately, I am not idealistically deluded-I walk the sober straight line of reality. Allow me to share a couple of things about culture that I have managed to garner in my twenty years, and explain what I call the "Winnie- the-Pooh" philosophy.
Many an American grows up watching Winnie-the-Pooh; at that tender age these malleable minds are exposed to a bear who obsesses over and craves honey. In the outback that is the Hundred Acre Woods, honey is a scarce resource, and Pooh goes through a series of Herculean tasks to get his grubby paws on the illusive prize. Finally, he succeeds, and then there is the binge phase. Pooh stuffs himself senseless. Let us extrapolate this to the current trends in society. Alcohol is clearly something students go to great lengths to obtain. When they finally get their hands on this "resource," they binge drink. Many students feel that they will not be able to obtain alcohol easily again, so when they drink they try and atone for the fact that alcohol is not readily available all the time. The students may also consume copious quantities as a subconscious reward for their efforts. This may seem like psychobabble, but it helps to explain why people in the age range 16-21 drink the way that they do.
In a society where you grow up watching your dad drink a couple of beers as he watches a football game, down a glass or two of wine over dinner, and guzzle a night cap before he goes to bed, it is almost impossible to try and ban a kid from drinking until he is three years into adulthood. What do you tell him, "I know that you are a responsible adult, posses the capability to make intelligent decisions, and can even vote to elect a person like Bill Clinton, but you but you can't shoot the scotch." Such "Logical" statements as this have the effect of engendering resentment and only serve to sow the seeds of rebellion in youth. This cannot be changed by a $60,000 grant that attempts to control youth who at this moment in their lives are intent only on breaking free of society's rules.
Trying to control alcohol consumption is a great idea, but the grandiose goals set by Student Services seem to suggest a couple of things. First, they want to look good in the eyes of their peers and revel in the praise that they will receive from other institutions and foundations that set their skewed target on the same deluded goal. Secondly, they seem to have little or no idea that the culture a generation imbibes as it grows cannot be changed by a paltry grant or some alcohol education seminars. There has to be change at a grass roots level in society if this problem is to be tackled, otherwise all the efforts of multifarious taskforces, summits and talks are about as good as a bottle of beer after the beer has been drunk.

Copyright © 1998 by Gregory S. Scherrer, Editor and by the Student Publications Board

submit a letter to the Editor
e-mail the Editorials Editor with a comment about this story
e-mail the Online Editor if there's a technical problem with this page