PLEASE NOTE: The Whole College Catalog is available for historical purposes. The
Whole College Catalog is 37 years old and should be viewed as a historical document
only. Please be aware that a more recent report exists,
A Call to Action: Changing the Culture of Drinking at U.S. Colleges.
to Action: Changing the Culture of Drinking at U.S. Colleges was released in 2002
and is a more current analysis of the college drinking situation in the U.S. If
you still would like to request a print version of The Whole College Catalog About
Drinking: A Guide to Alcohol Abuse Prevention, please contact
The College Catalog does not pretend to give any final answers. The best programs
will be the ones that you develop. Some of the efforts described here were not complete
successes; others are just getting underway. The important thing is that different
approaches are being tried and that we can learn from each other’s experience. Use
any part of this Catalog that you feel appropriate or that fits the needs of your
college community. Good Luck!
Thus spoke Father Theodore Hesburgh to students and faculty from around the country
in November 1975 at a meeting held to review the contents of this Whole College
Catalog. The University of Notre Dame president went on to call alcohol
abuse “one of the great enormous problems of our times,” and spoke of two illuminating
experiences from his own life. The first involved his learning how to drink in a
“civilized manner,” mostly with meals, while studying in pre-World War II Italy.
He recalled that in 3 years in that country he saw only three people drunk—and
two of them were Americans! (And he had seen hundreds of thousands of Italians during
those 3 years.)
The second incident involved a law student he knew at Notre Dame after the war.
Every time this fellow would go downtown at night he would inevitably come back
to the residence hall in an intoxicated state; and usually someone had to put him
to bed. On one particular occasion it was Father Hesburgh who gave assistance and,
in parting, asked the student to see him the next day. The following morning the
student arrived looking a bit sheepish and expecting a stern reprimand. Instead,
he was asked what he wanted out of life. The student responded that he wanted to
be a successful lawyer, have a good marriage, and be a good father. Father Hesburgh
then asked “Okay, do you know what you are right now?” The student said, “Yeah,
I’m a law student at Notre Dame.”
The student had to admit that the answer was “no” to all three questions.
These two experiences of Father Hesburgh illustrate some important points about
alcohol abuse as it relates to American society and to us as individuals. While
drunkenness and the accompanying social damage are perhaps not unique to the United
States, they do tend to be more prevalent and destructive in this country than in
many others. Fortunately, there are societies where individuals have learned to
use alcohol in a mature, nondestructive, “gracious and joyful” way. We can look
at these cultures and perhaps find help for our own future.
Despite what we see on television and read in magazines, drinking does not solve
our problems—it is not the key to success and happiness. For those of us who have
set personal goals and who seek human dignity and happiness, it might be well worthwhile
to reexamine our use of alcohol and our behavior, as well as that of those we love,
to see if there is something “goofy” in our lives.