Duke It Out: Birthday Shots

[It’s pretty obvious that the average CollegeCandy reader has some very strong opinions. Opinions that she likes to share with everyone on the site. We love a strong woman (unless she happens to be charging at us with her fists raised), so we thought we’d give her a real forum to discuss her thoughts, feelings, and perspectives. Every Friday I’ll be featuring a hot topic (like super-seniors!) and leaving it up to you, the readers, to duke it out. So, read it and get your debate on in the comments section below!]

This week, the last bar in State College (that’s the town where the main campus of Penn State is – the name confused me for a while too) to hold out on the 21st birthday tradition of doing way too many shots decided to amend it’s stance and stop serving shots to new 21 year-olds. All of the bars in State College now abide by this policy – you can still get beer or mixed drinks, just no shots – where 21st-ers will have to wait an extra 36 hours after their birthday before they can purchase tiny little glasses of liquor. The question is, is this fair?

Ok, now the whole impetus behind the ban is that Penn State (known as the biggest party school in the country) has had some trouble with it’s students binge drinking, and since 21st birthdays are usually a big drinking night (yeah, baby!) they hope that preventing these (supposedly) new drinkers from getting shots, they might cut down on some of the dangers of overdrinking on the big night.

Now, it’s hard for me to argue against that. I’m all for safety when drinking and for acting (at least kinda, sorta, vaguely) responsible with alcohol – plus, you’re birthday will totally be more fun if you can remember it, trust me! And the bars aren’t denying students the right to buy alcohol either, they’re just forcing them to get it in less concentrated doses, which I think is totally smart. It’s completely within the bars rights to serve or deny service to whomever they choose (as long as they’re legal, of course).

And yet, there’s still something about this that sticks in my craw (you like that sweet, old-school phrasing, don’t you? Yeah, you do). Once you’re legal, shouldn’t you have the right to by the alcoholic beverage of your choice? As long as you can pay for it, should they be allowed to deny you whatever kind of 21st birthday you want to have? You’ve worked 21 years to get there, and if you want to do shots until you’re making out with the floorboards that’s legally your right. And what if an older friend bought the shots? Does your whole group have to be shotless because you’re newly legal? What if you bought the bottle?

There’s also that whole 36-hour thing which just seems silly to me; for one thing, if your b-day is in the middle of the week, you might wait until Friday night to go party anyway and then, apparently, you can do as many shots as you want. WTF? Not to mention that little fact that there are probably some Penn State students (or students visiting a pal for their b-day) who could manage to do one or two shots without being completely overcome by the urge to suck down a whole bottle of tequila – but you can’t have one shot, even if that’s all you want… at least not until the day after tomorrow.

So, am I getting too up in arms about all of this? Is it really that big of a deal to give up one kind of alcohol on your 21st? Is this a good way of protecting people from themselves? Or is this just a way for the bars to avoid a little liability and flack from the school? Duke. It. Out.

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