Thursday, November 6, 2008

KU Needs to start an AA meeting...

There is an astounding statistic in the University Daily Kansan today. The average KU student spends $999.04 on alcohol in a given school year.

Now, take into account this aspect of the statistic: approximately half of the 30,128 students are not legally allowed to drink. That's not saying that they don't, they just cannot legally. Whether you agree with the law or not, it is the law as it stands today. Let's go with the lowest number, 13,000 students who are not legally able to drink, and let's say that 70% (10,000) of our students do not break the law (whether by religion, preference, or indifference. That's probably a generous number, but go with it.) Thus, doesn't that mean that the average student actually spends closer to $1700.00 in alcohol in a ten-month period?

What does this mean for my ministry? What implications does this hold for my work with students? This is what I am trying to figure out...

I don't have a problem with drinking IF you are (a) legal, and (b) not drinking to excess. Paul tells Timothy that Godly men are not partakers of much wine. But Paul isn't a teetotaler; he tells Timothy to drink a little wine for his stomach.

So... I am struggling with where to begin. What do you think?


Mark said...

It's important to remember that everything that's permissible might not be beneficial.

To me, the issue isn't that it's a hellfire sin to drink alcohol. But how will it be perceived? Is it really necessary, with so many other tasty, healthy, affordable drink options? Do the benefits outweigh the disadvantages?

I choose not to drink. But I also don't try and beat up people who do drink. I just see it as an unnecessary thing. It certainly doesn't help me grow closer to God. The only times when I have drunk/drank/drinked was when I genuinely felt that my insistence on being a tea-totaler would actually hinder my ministry with a non-Christian friend of ours. She offered us some of her favorite wine as a show of hospitality. And we did actually end up getting to have a conversation with her and her husband about Christ while we were there. I'm glad I didn't turn her off by being perceived as too "holier than thou."

I think I'm rambling too much, which is another way of saying, "Thought-provoking post, Mr. McGraw!"

James Wood said...

I think what you should NOT do is to try to vilify drinking (not that I think you specifically are doing so). Probably the biggest draw is the forbidden nature of drinking. My guess is that the minors are probably spending more than the legal drinkers (just a guess).

I honestly think that spending time celebrating appropriate drinking is a good place to start. Host a wine and cheese tasting. Introduce them to micro-brews and high quality ales.

I would bet that there are AA meetings on campus. I would connect with what is already happening. The thing that really sucks is that they need to "hit rock bottom" before they will be receptive to the 12 steps. Most college kids are far from rock bottom. There needs to be more consequence for being drunk, underage drinking, etc. I imagine if they had to go to jail it might help them to understand how dumb it is to get drunk.

Daniel said...

Guys, thanks for your posts...

In no way am I trying to vilify drinking. What I AM trying to do is bring light to a situation that demands attention.

I spent time talking to the Vice-Provost for Student Success (a fancy PC title for Dean of Student Services), and she says that the #1 problem at KU is that individuals don't know when to stop drinking. The average individual here at KU believes that a person has drunk too much when they pass out on the floor. Not when they are totally plastered... WHEN THEY PASS OUT! Definitely not medically healthy.

James, your idea is a good one but not one that would go over well in my current circumstances. Some people see any form of drinking as a sin...

Mark, I had a similar situation in Germany while I was there. It is amazing how simply sharing a glass of wine can break down barriers. Please don't repeat that to anyone! =) But part of my ministry in the next year will be going "pub crawling," not to drink but to meet students where they are (obviously) at.

I guess what I am addressing is the society of alcoholism that seems to be present here at KU (and every other university campus across the nation.) How do we take a group of students and tell them that IF they are to drink then they are to "Drink Responsibly"? (Thanks, Guinness, for the slogan.) Too many students think the reason for drinking is to drink to excess. It isn't because they enjoy the taste or want to sample, it is to get drunk and act cool. We have created a culture that promotes unhealthy lifestyles in eating, drinking, etc.

Does that make sense?

Thanks for all of your help in thinking this through. I am still wrestling with it.

Mark said...

Hey Daniel,

I was in Mexico in the story I mentioned! It's definitely different in other countries.

I remember some guys at Harding who started a Waffle House ministry. They would just go every monday night to see who they could meet, and to try and share their faith.

If we don't ever meet any sinners, then how will we know:
1. What they're thinking. We spend way too much time putting words into the world's mouth about how they see us.
2. How to best reach them. Trial and error is the way to go in anything at which we want to acquire skill.

It is sad that our culture has made alcoholism so rampant. God's blessings in your efforts there.