Sunday, May 24, 2009

Dr Boyce Watkins Comments on College Student Behavior

Dr Boyce Watkins

While we might want to get on Morehouse College for the recent shooting incident, one has to clearly understand that Morehouse is not the only university with its share of dirt on campus.  Harvard University is now in the middle of it’s own violent incident, in which a student was shot and killed in a Harvard dorm.  The victim, who is not a Harvard University student, sold drugs to Harvard University students.

According to Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone: "The common denominator between the Harvard students, the suspect and man who is dead, the common denominator was drugs and money."

This incident is a reminder that, no matter what campus you’re on, student behavior can be out of control.  The culture of drugs, alcohol and other ridiculous behavior should not be considered a fundamental part of the college experience.  The book “Smashed” chronicles the life of a former Syracuse University student, as she spent 4 years drinking herself into poor health.  There is also the Duke University rape scandal from 3 years ago, in which everyone wondered if a woman was raped, but no one wondered why there were 19 year olds having drunken stripper parties.

I try to explain to students in my book, “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about College”, that college should be a lot of fun.  But students should be encouraged to be responsible, and not let off the hook for every stupid thing they do.  I have friends in law enforcement who express frustration that students arrested for drunk driving are protected by their parents and not held accountable for their actions.  I also find myself irritated by the rapper Asher Roth, who wrote a song “I Love College”, in which he describes college as a place for drinking, partying and irresponsible sex.  The rapper Roth describes his perspective clearly with the lyrics, “Drink my beer and smoke my weed….Pass out at 3, wake up at 10, go out to eat and do it again.”  Don’t get me wrong: sex can be great, and so can other forms of leisure activity (I’m not here to judge or put myself on a pedestal).  But we are doing our young people no favors by presuming that excessive sexual promiscuity, experimenting with drugs and binge drinking are good things.  THEY-ARE-NOT. 

Sorry dawg, I’m not with that.  College is a great place to get an education, but it is also a great place to catch a venereal disease, become an alcoholic, get raped, get arrested, die from a drug overdose or die of alcohol poisoning.  Sorry to put it that way, but that’s as real as I can get.

If you are sending your child to college, make this clear: College is a great place to have fun, but responsibility is a requirement.  Hold your children accountable, and we must also hold any university accountable for accepting irresponsible behavior as simply a “part of college life”. 

Consider me radical for saying this, but college is a place to be educated.  Everything else should be secondary.  Don’t let your kids fall victim to the ignorance.

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