Energy drinks are bad for you.
If one wishes to argue for the health benefits resulting from excess amounts of sugar and caffeine in the candy-flavored alternatives to coffee, then I’m sure they could find a few smokers armed with 1950s literature to further their debate. After all, isn’t smoking just a deep-breathing exercise?
Yet, a person’s right to purchase energy drinks is under attack, or at least for those attending the University of New Hampshire. The institution announced a ban on the sale of energy drinks on campus stores a couple of weeks ago. Although the university decided to reduce the ban in order to review it, this “prohibition” is still being considered by the university’s president in attempt to make UNH one of the “healthiest campuses in the country.”
Naturally, the immediate question is toward the perceived infringement of freedom that arises with such a ban. For arguments sake, however, let us put that aside and instead focus on what the university plans to accomplish with such action. If its goal is for students to be able to make healthier decisions, then shouldn’t the decision be there’s to make? An institution of education should be educating students on what they should and should not be putting in their bodies, not slapping their hands from the cookie jar like a disappointed parent.
By simply eliminating such a popular option from its campus, a college is sending mixed messages to its students: “Sure, we expect you to be able to become responsible adults who can make rational, independent choices. We just don’t trust your ability to decide what you grab at 7-Eleven before class.”
Besides, who really believes that banning energy drinks from campus convenience stores would stop students from drinking them? Sales of individual drinks would be gone on campus outlets, but sale of bulk packs would surely skyrocket in surrounding grocery stores. Care packages filled with assortments of the beverages would arrive at dorms regularly. How much weight does a ban on something hold if they’re only stopping one way of obtaining it?
Also, those who state the dangers of mixing energy drinks with alcohol seriously underestimate the creativity of college students. As always, if one option is eliminated they will find another more controversial way to get the ultimate buzz. I can hear the lyrics to the LMFAO single now, “I’ve got a Starbucks and vodka up in my hands…”
Wouldn’t it make more sense to provide a platform for student organizations who can distribute information on nutritional facts for energy drinks? Why not provide more health-oriented classes? Instead of building a wall between the administration and the student body, put the incentive in the hands of the students to create a healthier campus.
So unless UNH officials expect their caffeine-craving students to sip Red Bulls out of brown paper bags, they should seriously consider allowing them to make their own decisions.
Daniel Craig can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.