How do we get students to stop obsessing over alcohol?

Tricky question, given Fredonia’s history.

A professor was recently quoted in The Leader remembering his time as a Fredonia student thirty-five years ago, getting 25-cent drafts at Sunny’s. He concluded that despite decades worth of changes the culture here hasn’t actually changed much. Old habits die hard, or not at all.

But consider a corollary.

In Kenya and Tanzania it’s a traditional right of passage for a young Maasai warrior to kill a lion. This was all well and good when there were 200,000 lions in the region. Now that it’s dwindled to 30,000 conservationists are having a real issue with letting this ritual continue.

So Dr. Leelah Hazzah and her team at Lion Guardians decided to do something. They did not show up and say, “Hey! Stop killing the lions! Don’t you know that’s bad?” They did not institute lion-killing policies, rules, or regulations. In fact, they did not focus on the lions at all. They focused on the young Maasai people.

They recruited young Maasai warriors and asked them, “Why is this ritual so important to you? Is there a way you can experience the same psychological effect without killing a lion?”

Today, instead of killing a lion, young Maasai warriors find and name lions, tracking them and performing a census. It turns out that living with and protecting lions is as much a rite of passage as killing them.

I don’t think we can get students to do much of anything, because that implies “us vs. them.”

I do think we can work with students to find out why this rite of passage is so important to them–bars, binge-drinking, heavy marijuana use, and such–and explore better options.