A defense of college parties


At many musical events, artists, DJs and guests sneak in alcohol. Photo credit: Gage Northcutt

If you want to stay home on a Friday or Saturday night that’s your business, but don’t you think for a second that you are better than others because of that.

Let’s face it. A lot of people in college want to go to house parties, bars or raves (or sometimes even all of the above). These young people are acting insane and reckless for the most part at these events and derive a lot of joy from this rebellion of the masses.

But why?

Well, the answer is simple: because they are young.

The human brain does not mature until the age of 25. Specifically, the prefrontal cortex is not utilized as much at a young age because it has not developed at the same pace as the emotional center of the brain, the amygdala. Teens and young adults are driven by desires with no prefrontal cortex captain to steer behavior in a logical way.

Our brains are not quite there yet, and our behavior and overabundance of feelings may explain our desire to rebel. But it can also lead to trouble.

Those who are anti-party are right in a lot of ways. Being too reckless is dangerous. Drunken behavior can lead to injury, bodily harm from alcohol poisoning, going to jail for public intoxication and drunk driving at the worst.

So that’s it, right? The stupid kids are dumb and are below the good-natured and virtue-abundant people who are home doing a crossword?

Not quite true.

This type of judgment is harmful to the development of young people. The acceptance that we are young and make mistakes is how we grow and learn to make our own decisions. No amount of shame can replace the greatest teachers: failure and consequence.

Denying others to see the consequences of their own decisions does not complete the journey necessary to their own decision making. People usually don’t know the end unless they see the end.

In the book, “How to Be an Adult: A Handbook on Psychological and Spiritual Integration,” author David Richo writes about the importance of working through feelings rather than repressing them.

“Most of us,” says Richo, “emerge from childhood with conscious and unconscious psychic wounds and emotional unfinished business. What we leave incomplete we are doomed to repeat.”

So when students are told that they shouldn’t do this or that and are shamed for taking part in something that is quite common, all they do is hold off the inevitable. If people don’t decide for themselves what is right to do, they lack control and will and will never truly grow.

This, of course, does not mean that they exemplify safety and understanding when they are doing something. Being conscious of the effects and laws for drugs, alcohol, sex, lack of sleep, and overindulgence should always be taught and available. But when it comes to the decision on what to do with their weekend, just leave them to their choices and they’ll sort themselves out from there.

Leave the kids alone. They are young, they’ll figure it out.

Gage Northcutt can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @NorthcuttGage.