Last week the president of Duke University suspended the highly ranked men’s lacrosse team in response to allegations that several members of the team raped and assaulted a N.C. Central student who was performing as an exotic dancer at an off-campus party.
The president made the right move, and the university seems to be taking the situation seriously. But the issues that this case raises go beyond Duke University. They highlight the very real and very serious problems of violence and alcohol abuse that are so prevalent on our nation’s campuses.
Each year, more than 696,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking. More than 97,000 students each year are victims of alcohol related sexual assault or date rape.
These statistics are simply stunning. The binge-drinking rate is 44 percent. Over 1,700 college students die each year from alcohol related injuries, and 90 percent of college crimes involve alcohol. In the Duke case, 15 of the team’s 47 members have faced previous charges including underage alcohol possession and having open containers of alcohol.
The system is breaking down. How can we curb the violence and stem the abuse of alcohol by our young people on college campuses?
The answers start with common sense solutions. Fathers and mothers must be aware of what their kids are doing. They must warn their kids about the dangers of booze and educate them so when the time comes they won’t make poor choices that could lead to them hurting themselves, hurting someone else, or being abused or taken advantage of.
College is fun, and we all want our kids to enjoy the college experience. But we all need to wake up to what is happening. The dangers of alcohol abuse are too serious, and the crimes committed by those who have had too much to drink have ended in tragedy for too many young people.
We must step forward and help our students to make good decisions so they don’t make mistakes that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
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