While many hearts sank at the news of Livingstock '99, the confrontation may yet play a positive role. The students captured on police videotape—dancing around leaping fires, screaming obscenities, and hurling beer bottles—could serve as prime examples for why it's unwise to consume alcohol in excess. "Alcohol acts on the emotional centers of the brain and disables the cognitive centers," says social work professor Paul Caldwell. "It impairs judgment and causes people to act out more primitive emotions that result in violence and aggression. It simply takes away your ability to inhibit emotions and think clearly."
      Jen Doherty watched the Livingstock '99 riot from a friend's porch. At first, the spectacle frightened her; soon she became embarrassed and then angry. "Livingstock took planning and effort," she says. "It was a great time to walk around and see friends at the end of the year. But the students who drank too much wrecked it for everyone. It was shocking to see that students ready to graduate from college could behave like that. They dragged our school's name through the mud, and ruined a nice tradition. And for what?"
      Many students, at SU and nationwide, are asking the same question—and coming to the conclusion that binge drinking makes no sense. "Although riots and outrageous behavior make newspaper headlines, the majority of college students do not engage in binge drinking," Wells says. "In fact, more students than ever before are participating in volunteer activities and service learning. Students also are taking the lead in helping to create campus communities in which excessive drinking is considered socially unacceptable.
      "It may take time," Wells concludes, "but many students are ready to change the campus drinking culture."

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