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The first surprising finding reported in the program that caught my attention was that the biggest problem at Penn State was alcohol. Furthermore, it has some predisposition to that. As mentioned in the podcast, Penn State surpasses all the criteria of schools that tend to have the heaviest drinking. Not only is it situated in the northeast, but it also has a considerable amount of undergraduate population together with a huge fraternity system. The students practice “pregaming” there and seem not to be missing any party the fraternities organize. Moreover, the whole environment seems to contribute to the drinking problem at Penn State. In fact, the students report that Penn State University is situated “in the middle of nowhere,” and there is not much to do there except drinking. As a result, very few students are able to resist the drinking environment.
Another thing that surprised me was the attitude of the adults in Pennsylvania. The University’s president Graham Spanier seems not to be concerned with the problem of drinking at the school. The reason is that he believes that it is impossible to do anything to change the situation at Penn State. At the same time, it is shocking to learn how adults contribute to the student’s drinking. I was frightened by the episode when some woman aged 50 handed the 21-year-old girl an extra strong drink. She was not even acquainted with that girl and did it solely for the purpose of entertainment. Another adult supporting drinking among university students was Ray Rocke, the bar owner. He supports drinking among students due to their “energy level” and their right to have fun at the period of student life. Thus, even with the case of successful anti-alcohol policy of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the administration of Penn State University is rather passive in declaring war on uncontrolled drinking.
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The topic of college drinking and the influence of environmental pressure is rather distressing. Drinking seems to be so deeply embedded in student’s life at Penn State University that the chances to change anything appear to be low. Unfortunately, the students do not see anything appalling in drinking. Apparently, the problem existed for generations, and it affected the entire families. Students continue drinking even when their education suffers, their health deteriorates, and they are injured. Moreover, lethal outcomes of binge drinking seem to have no impact on the students in general. Although the students may endeavor to control each other more, they never come to the conclusion that they should quit drinking. What is more, they do not consider beer harmful and tend not to heed any warning or advice. However, when they face the problem, the students start thinking of responsible drinking. Furthermore, they are proud to study at the education establishment that occupies the first position of student drinking. It is hard for students to believe a destructive influence the environment and culture may produce. It remains incomprehensible when the things have changed so that people credit drinking to be not something one should be ashamed of but something in which one can take pride.
However, there is a prospect that some measures may save the situation. Penn State University should close the fraternity houses that promote drinking. It should ban alcohol in as many fraternities as possible. Furthermore, the administration may ban alcohol sales inside the football stadium. Apparently, that would be an appropriate policy of a member of university administration. Unless the universities realize all the scale of the drinking problem across the country, nothing will change. As I learned, university bureaucracies are not well suited to the severe anti-drinking strategy. Therefore, the statistics and facts are still distressful.
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