News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to

Monday, August 29, 2011

The New World drunk and disorderly rules

Colorado State University students make stupor a ritual

This year has marked the emergence of the social media as a force throughout the world.  The Arab Spring was promoted and coordinated through the use of cell phones and Internet social pages.  This became a particularly notable element in the uprising in Egypt.  It was a major factor during the riots in  Great Britain this summer.  It has been cited by authorities in Philadelphia and Milwaukee as the device used in creating the "flash mobs" that rioted in their communities.  

This past weekend, Colorado State University students at Ft. Collins orchestrated a "flash party" through the social media.  The Denver Post reports that between 2,000 and 4,000  people gathered at a place near the campus for an alcohol-fueled party on Saturday afternoon that soon got out of control.  The party has become something of a tradition at CSU, but this time reports show that four were arrested and 16 young people were treated for alcohol poisoning.

Imbibing has long been a university tradition.  Martin Luther, as a student, was said to own a beer mug that had the Ten Commandments on it and could chug-a-lug through all ten.  However, until recent years, collegiate drinking has had some standards of circumspection attached to it.  When I was an undergraduate, students tippled for conviviality and high spirits, but it was stigma to show the more adverse effects of alcohol.  Drinking to the point of drunkenness was not tolerated and made one a social undesirable.  

During my tenure as a professor, some very bad things happened, including sexual encounters that resulted in criminal charges of students,  the deaths of a number of students, and some incidents that were simply grossly stupid and degrading.  The excessive use of alcohol was the common element in all these incidents.  

As the culture moves into an age of advanced technology, we are again reminded that not all innovation works for the improvement of humankind.  Perhaps the new technologies reveal much more about the weaknesses of our education systems than do all the standardized tests.  There seems to be a widespread lack of critical thinking and direction among the young, especially in regard to their own lives.  One gets the very powerful indication that there is not much we have created in the world that they have to  look forward to.   Maybe it's time for we elders to have a flash drunk.  It might reveal some of the realities faced by the young.  

Our futures are short, but maybe we might contemplate what the prospects would be if we were college age students again.  Or is that too bleak to confront? 

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Bob Ellis said...
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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States