In 1946 I arrived on the Princeton campus, carrying one suitcase and my golf clubs. By 10 p.m., I was well on my way to getting drunk. I doubt that the drinking environment at Princeton, after a dozen hours in residence, had anything to do with this. My point is that 62 years later, Princeton is still trying to “figure it out.”

The University has been condoning, if not aiding and abetting, alcohol consumption by a student body that, statistically, is 75 percent underage. One need only walk in the P-rade to see evidence of this. This mixed message from Nassau Hall has not been particularly helpful in dealing with high-risk drinking.

As a recovered alcoholic, I believe the University needs to understand the difference between alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction. Abuse is a social occurrence; addiction is an allergy, manifested by an inability to control the amount of alcohol consumed on any given occasion. Once this distinction is made, the approach to a solution is fairly straightforward.

Alcohol abuse can be dealt with very easily by enforcing the University rules regarding alcohol consumption and the laws regarding underage drinking. Consequences work for abusers if they are realistically severe. Alcohol addiction, on the other hand, is a disease, and consequences don’t have much impact on the real alcoholic. Task forces and coalition committees can’t do much to help the suffering alcoholic, but these individuals can recover from this seemingly hopeless state of mind and body.

Let’s stop trying to treat symptoms, such as the academic calendar, academic pressure, or any other real or imagined social obligations, and begin to treat the real causes.

John W. Minton Jr. ’50
Bradenton, Fla.