Underage Drinking Project

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Roman, Dec 21, 2011.

  1. Roman

    Roman Member

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    I partook in a leadership course this last semester, and a big part of it was having your own “leadership project.” I came up with ending cadets drinking underage (at USAFA). It’s always bothered me that it gets shoved down our throats not to lie, cheat, or steal, but gets almost completed ignored that about half of all cadets underage drink (my AOC estimated 40%). I’m of the opinion that the continual willingness to break the law is worse than a little white lie. More importantly, if I could enact some new policy/training that stopped one cadet from underage drinking, a huge difference could be made in that person’s life. Compare getting discharged versus becoming a colonel, for example.

    The only training that currently exists is something like a briefing in basic. All alcohol briefings afterward are only ever about over-21 drinking (like have a DD). I told this to my AOC, who’s given a lot of alcohol briefings, and it was like a light bulb went off in his head.

    I am not going to get into the specifics about who I have talked to because I am not happy about it and don’t want that online. Going into this I felt like the problem was that leadership was ignoring the issue because they found it to be embarrassing to admit, don’t think it can be solved, or simply don’t care. I definitely still think that’s the source of the problem.

    Pretty much I need to come up with how to solve this on my own. There are a handful of other cadets who have offered to help, but permanent party, for the most part, hasn’t been that helpful. The Commandant of Cadets apparently got excited when my AOC mentioned this to him, but I definitely need a plan before I go that high up. All I have come up with is having a one-on-one mentoring program where someone actually tells a freshman not to underage drink. I feel like it would be powerful if someone felt like they were letting someone down that they looked up to. I am planning on asking the Behavioral Science Department for help with getting actual research that would suggest effective ways to change someone’s mindset.

    Comments and suggestions needed. Thanks.
     
  2. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    I'm not sure exactly what you envision here, but good luck.

    From what I have seen, nearly all of the underage drinking done by USAFA cadets happens off base, where both cadet and permanent party leadership are less likely to be present. I believe that significantly reducing underage drinking would need to come from within the lower two classes (as most of them are the underage group). With a lot of people coming from local cultures that don't put an emphasis on stopping underage drinking, that leaves under 2 years to establish a "USAFA culture" that gets people to stop and think before partying it up at CSU, etc...

    The time I had to deal with this was when, as a flight commander, one of my 3 digs drank underage at a party at UCCS. I had no clue until a week later, when our AOC got the campus security report...
     
  3. SamAca10

    SamAca10 Ensign - DWO

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    I think 3/c are the most likely to get in a lot of trouble...at least that's what I've observed this year.
     
  4. Roman

    Roman Member

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    Ending all underage-cadet drinking. I don't expect that to happen anytime soon or even before I graduate, but hopefully I can at least get something implemented for the Class of 2016.

    A lot happens in dorms, surprisingly.

    I thought maybe the sophomore coaching system could be used. Have them mentor the freshmen about underage drinking. Maybe they have to have chats with their freshmen a few times during the semester. Sophomores would need some kind of instruction for doing this I think. If this was implemented tomorrow, I'm sure a lot of sophomores would just be like "don't get caught" and not care, but I'm sure there would be at least one case where a freshmen was influenced not to do it and that would be enough to make it worthwhile.
     
  5. buffalo

    buffalo USAFA 2013

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    For that to work any chance of success, the sophomores (or anyone) will have to buy in to the idea. Unfortunately, as you have said, most won't care. And even if they do, I see drinking, like honor, as more of an intrinsic choice. I can explain why I chose not to drink, but ultimately in many cases, the individual has already decided whether or not drink underage.

    It's a tough problem, which I obviously do not have the answer to. Best of luck.
     
  6. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    How fast do you drive? over the speed limit on the Interstate? Isn't that breaking the law routinely?

    Government operates with the consent of the governed. Perhaps the willingness to break this law by 50% of your peers (and I bet that it's higher than that) is the governed telling the government that it is a foolish law?
    I have a leadership project for you - convince your peers that it is a ridiculous law -passed by a busybody congress that has no problem sending 18 year old soldiers to put their lives on the line, yet those same volunteers can't walk into a bar and buy a cold one. Then convince them that the way to change this is TO VOTE as a bloc and let your congressmen know that their election depends in part on the 18-21 year old vote. Now there is a leadership project- getting your peers to exercise the rights and obligations of citizens.

    I'm sorry i fI am coming on strong here, but this is a subject that really gets me going. I am of the firm opinion that not only is this law wrong and offensive to what are legally adults (and especially so to Service Members), but it is the cause of far more binge drinking, drunk driving and general stupidity involving alcohol and young adults than is seen in the parts of the world that do not treat the consumption of alcohol as such a huge event. And frankly if you think that this is a bigger problem than outright lying - then I would recommend a leadership project that reemphasizes the honor code and focus on why unfailing personal honesty is the cornerstone of an officer far more than unfailing adherence to a regulation just because it's the reg.
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2011
  7. Roman

    Roman Member

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    Getting the law changed anytime soon isn't going to happen, but cadets are going to have their careers ended this next semester because they drank underage.
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2011
  8. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    So, before you're going to sell some bitter 19 or 20-year-old academy kid that underage is bad, you're going to have to be able to convince a bunch of semi-responsible adults.

    So, go for it.

    I have a great military career. I've succeeded beyond my wildest expectations. I also drank underage as a cadet (no honor violations occurred). So why should I have not done that?

    You know saying "it's wrong" won't convince anyone. We all speed and throw recyclables in the regular trash. What else ya got?
     
  9. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    So, as long as you're keeping with the herd while breaking the law, it's ok?
     
  10. Roman

    Roman Member

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    My motivation for doing this is not because I think it's wrong. I'm really pretty indifferent about it. I don't even know why I replied to that speed limit thing. Like you said the academies have been graduating those that have drank underage since they began. The problem I have is that the Academy is kicking people out for it and they never told them not to (essentially). According to Academy rules, half the Wing should be kicked out! So rather than advocate that rules change, I'm just saying that more effort needs to be made to stop cadets from doing it.
     
  11. Hurricane12

    Hurricane12 USNA 2012

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    40% seems like a very optimistic number.
    Did you drink in high school? I'm not trying to call you out, but you're going to be fighting a huge uphill battle because the overwhelming majority of your classmates did. So, you're going to have a bunch of kids who have drank underage (and most likely not faced repurcussions for it, since they're at USAFA) trying to tell a bunch of kids who also have probably drank underage not to drink underage. I see issues here.

    Drinking underage is illegal. Great! Everyone knows, and as long as they know the consequences at a service academy (I.e, at USNA using a fake ID is both an honor and conduct offense) then there's really only so much you can do. To me, a cynical jerk like most academy students, this seems like a project that would look great to the upper administration and outsiders but to cadets just end up being a waste of time that changes nothing. If you really think you can make a change, go for it, but I would think the responses you've gotten here are far more sympathetic than what you could expect from your classmates.
     
  12. Roman

    Roman Member

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    Making a change isn't hard. Nothing's been tried because no one cares enough to do anything. These are actually the most negative responses I've gotten (which includes my drinking friends).
     
  13. Hurricane12

    Hurricane12 USNA 2012

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    Your other post made me a little confused. Is your issue:

    1: underage drinking, because it is illegal and therefore bad.

    2: the Academy, which does not publicize well enough the consequences of alcohol offenses well enough, which leads cadets to make stupid decisions.

    If its the former, I stand by my earlier post. If it's the latter, that's a little on the cadets. It should be very clear from your conduct manual what the possible outcomes are. You can lead a horse to water, but you cant make him drink. Sure it's unfair that some people will get kicked out for stuff that lots of people do, but that's kind of the nature of the system.
     
  14. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    Sounds like you actually have no idea what you stand for. At the outset, you wanted to "change lives" by stopping your fellow cadets from drinking. You were morally and ethically opposed to it, because (and I quote):

    and now it's become about making the higher-ups do more to stop you? So your stance has gone from a moral/ethical opposition to removing an ethical onus from your fellow cadets and telling the administration "you aren't doing enough to stop us from breaking the law."

    So...do you have a stance?
     
  15. SamAca10

    SamAca10 Ensign - DWO

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    Some of my friends are 21, and it makes it harder to hang out with them on long weekends if they want to go to a bar. When they card you, they won't let you in if you're under 21, which means I'm holding back my friends. That 21 year old law really is ridiculous...In most countries, people are allowed to drink before they can legally drive. They read the KIA list in the wardroom every Thursday before lunch, and a lot of these kids are 19-20 years old. Old enough to die in the sandbox but too young to buy a drink...that's crazy.
     
  16. Roman

    Roman Member

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    Please reread my original post without that one sentence about breaking the law. I agree that that makes my stance unclear. And why are you being so hostile? This isn't a political debate.
     
  17. Roman

    Roman Member

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    So then why do we have honor lessons every few weeks? Why can't they just tell us what honor is at the beginning, give us the manual, and be done with it?
     
  18. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    I assure you that you have not seen me be hostile.

    That being said, your posts on this subject have ranged from sanctimonious to indifferent to blaming your disciplinarians for your collective misdeeds.

    You started this thread with a preachy post about changing lives and saving your classmates from themselves. Now you seem almost indifferent to the subject, despite making it your "project."

    You asked for advice and suggestions. You got them.
     
  19. Hurricane12

    Hurricane12 USNA 2012

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    Because honor can be a lot fuzzier. Due to the nature of the program at USNA (mostly MIDN run, you can choose not to report someone, etc.), questions of honor become a lot more confusing than you'd think. I was my company honor adviser for the first semester this year, and was surprised how many questions there were, especially from the plebes. It's just a different standard of behavior than what's expected in the civilian world.
    Also, the honor program is, frankly, a little overdone at USNA (I have my own reasons for why I think this is that I'm not getting into here). We were supposed to give monthly training to all classes, which is really not necessary. Even with the leeway needed for fuzzy situations, it's not that hard to not lie, not cheat, and not steal.

    Drinking is pretty cut and dry. It helps that underage drinking is "real world" illegal, not just against Academy rules. Are you 21? No? Don't drink! (Or, don't get caught).
     
  20. Roman

    Roman Member

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    How do I seem indifferent? I used indifferent once to describe how I felt about it being okay or wrong to underage drink. I don't care who does it. What I do care about is that I have had 2, almost 3, friends get kicked out for it.

    No, I actually haven't.
     

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