What I am here to do is tell you the story of a Saturday night that has become all too common in the college scene.
I was at home in bed at 1 a.m. after a night out at The Tipsy Goat, when my phone started to buzz. It was a call from a friend who I had seen having a little too much to drink earlier that evening. But it wasn’t my friend calling – an emergency medical technician was letting me know he was passed out in the Best Buy parking lot.
I begged the technicians not to leave and rushed to my car to go and retrieve my friend. I will never forget driving up and seeing someone I cared about strapped onto a gurney because he was so drunk he couldn’t take care of himself.
However, we can’t put the entire blame on the individual for what happened that night. Another big contributor to binge drinking is college culture. In college there’s always a reason to drink: Margarita Monday, Tequila Tuesday, Whiskey Wednesday, Thirsty Thursday, Fucked Up Friday, Shit Show Saturday and Sunday Funday. Drinking culture has become such an important part of college that we have assigned a drinking day for every week. Not to mention, holidays like Cinco De Mayo and Halloween have become the sight for some of the biggest drinking nights for college students.
I know for a fact these events are used as a reason for our peers to drink well over their limit and brush off the behavior as normal because of an ‘It’s just what college students do…drink too much,’ mentality. We have become a society that justifies overuse of drugs and alcohol as a normal part of the college experience. What we fail to recognize is that this problem is a result of combining strict university policies with a lack of education on the university’s end.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states that around 15 million Americans ages 18 and older have an alcohol use disorder. That is one in eight people, and only about 1.5 million of those people will receive treatment for their alcoholism.
The Cal Lutheran student handbook states, “All persons in the presence of or in possession of alcohol will be documented for a policy violation. All alcohol and items containing alcohol will be disposed of and/or confiscated.” Policies like this aren’t teaching students not to drink, but teaching them to be smarter about hiding their drinking, especially when pre-gaming before going out. If attending a dry campus has taught us anything, it is how to get drunk in the shortest amount of time without leaving any sort of evidence.
A friend of mine described it best: College does not teach you the negative effects of drinking, but leaves “an open pit for experience.” Colleges and universities should offer more than just mandatory alcohol education courses at the beginning of your freshman year. Colleges should offer courses and trainings that students can participate in.
In college, many of us will experience being on our own for the first time, and will inevitably be pushed into an intense drinking and party culture, where you either keep up or get out. That’s why universities need actively combat a culture that embraces alcoholism as a way of life, rather than just telling students how to drink safely. For instance, telling students how to recognize alcohol poisoning and learn their limits ignores the issue that people are addicted to getting drunk on a regular basis.
According to the Addiction Center, every year approximately 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries.
I am here to raise awareness for an issue that often goes unnoticed. College has become such a party culture that we are desensitized and dismiss serious problems. Students should confront issues of addiction and stop playing it off as normal, and universities should tell their students that binge-drinking regularly isn’t okay. It’s not about knowing your limits, but not being pushed to the limit every weekend because ‘that’s just what college kids do.’