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Not all college kids drink more, spend less and are still idiots

I didn’t think too hard the last time I went drinking.

In fact, the idea of not thinking too hard about anything is half the reason to go out at all, but the New York Times (should hire me), seems to have forgotten the decompressed salvation that a night on the town can bring.


On Wednesday, the Times ran a story titled “Last Call for College Bars.” Written by Courtney Rubin, the article delves into a number of issues related to college students’ drinking habits: how social media is changing the landscape of college bars, the frugality with which students are purchasing drinks and the rise of “pre-gaming.”

The piece is weighted with titillatingly stupid quotes from students such as Mike McLaughlin, a 21 year-old face senior at Cornell who likes to, “…drink liquor because it takes too long to drink beer.”

The topic of college students’ drinking habits is evergreen, but the problem with the Times piece (other than the fact that none of the students mentioned from Cornell seem to exist in the school’s directory) is that it breaks down, into part and parcel, the culture of social drinking in college.

It’s not the first article to do it, but it’s the first I’ve read that clearly defines the social habit, offering a “how to” on being an asshole and applying a broad stroke to a varied demographic.

The article states that college bars are struggling thanks to our generation’s hopeless reliance on smartphones; students no longer go to a bar unless they’ve read on Twitter, Facebook or have been texted that it’s populated with the opposite sex.

In addition, the story makes the case that students are cheaper than we used to be (which is a good thing, right? I mean, with the economy and all …).

Lenny Leonardo, a retired bar owner who now lives in Florida (and who is insane for claiming that students won’t spend $2 on a drink) was quoted as saying, “They buy a bottle of Southern Comfort and show up in time to try to get laid. But they just end up throwing up in my men’s room, and I get reprimanded because it looks like I’m the one who let them get this drunk.”

The quote references “pre-gaming,” the practice of consuming alcohol cheaply at home before consuming the same cheap alcohol for inflated prices at the local bar (the term “pre-game” is dumb, but spending wisely — no matter what the application —  is always smart). I do sympathize with Leonardo, though, that it’s not usually a bar that over-serves a customer, it’s the customer who over-served him/herself — often at home.

The story concludes with two fake Cornell seniors (they fooled Rubin with aliases) deciding whether to end their night with casual hook ups or a game of Madden Football on the Xbox.


While there’s nothing wrong with the way these two fake Cornell seniors ended their evening, the Times story overreaches by picking out a few identifiable habits of a friend group and making the case that they are representative of all college students.

It’s a false narrative when used to represent all of us, but one that can be aptly applied to a certain segment of humans: jerks.

Not all college students are jerks, a fact that is often forgotten in pop-culture.

Some college students like to drink — socially — without vomiting in businesses, relying on Twitter for the next big party or thinking only of the prospect of sex.

Many college students don’t participate in the type of socializing outlined in the Times story, in part because it’s simply too stressful after five days of long classes, longer study sessions and a part- or full-time job to coordinate such an evening.

From within, it’s easy to say that older generations are more interested in our social lives than we are by defining, categorizing and ritualizing our behaviors.

The truth is that college students don’t approach their social lives as seriously or critically as other adults; to be honest, we’d rather just relax.

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