My Neighborhood

After last night’s liturgy commission meeting, I walked with one of our students up the street toward her dorm. It was about 150 minutes before this unfortunate and senseless event began. She went south to the university, I pedaled north through what was going to be carnage just three hours later.

I can’t say that I agree with the HuffPo’s headline of a “Riot … For No Apparent Reason.” The reason seems very clear to me. A significant minority of my younger Iowan sisters and brothers simply cannot control their drinking.

It’s a failing I saw a generation ago in two parishes: the lure of forbidden alcohol and the search for cool. I don’t see much that’s different today. The culture of my city contributes to this. In between the churches, restaurants, and coffeehouses in the Campustown neighborhood are a number of bars. In a lot of places, a public business that vends C2H5OH is more or less an honorable one: people come together to socialize, and the drink might take a little edge off the gathering of strangers, acquaintances, or even friends.

Supposedly, about two-thirds of the students at the university are ineligible to purchase and consume alcoholic beverages. I suppose there are enough who can to maintain businesses that sell beer and other potables.

Some citizens feel relief that the week-long party known as VEISHEA has been cancelled this year. I don’t think it will be revived. I hope that doesn’t give some a cause to conduct another riot. I would only be confirmed in my belief that too many people in my neighborhood, my city, and my state, are just incapable of consuming certain beverages. It’s a place where everyone should know the name: addiction to booze.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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One Response to My Neighborhood

  1. Liam says:

    This story, and the time of year, brings back memories for me. 35 years ago, The University of Virginia had four major “party weekends”, the last and greatest of which was called Easters, which was to spring in collegiate America what Dartmouth’s Winter Carnival was to winter – the major collegiate on-campus seasonal party. Easters occurred in proximity to Founder’s Day (Mr Jefferson’s birthday on April 13) and, often, Easter (it originated when the spring term was later and the mid-semester break typically occurred at Easter; by my time, spring break was in mid-March instead). Anyway, tens of thousands of people would descend on the otherwise terribly dignified Charlottesville for a huge multi-day orgy of excess (and great music – it was a significant stop on the collegiate concert circuit) in the 1970s; you could barely walk on major streets in certain areas. Remember, this was when the drinking age was 18 (in Virginia, that was just for beer, but enforcement of the ban on wine and liquor was non-existent – bourbon and grain alcohol punch were generously available). The last Easters was in 1982, and then it was abolished for its excesses. The University got more serious about alcohol when several pledges were injured/killed in a terrible road trip (road trip by male fraternities to women’s colleges, a long tradition in those parts) accident where the guys were in a truck with kegs, and there was a rollover and the kegs rolled with the guys inside the truck, shall we say.

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