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For a lot of students, Fling — or any good time for that matter — is associated with copious amounts of alcohol. But what if it doesn’t have to be? Can Fling and sober even be used in the same sentence?

I hadn’t really questioned that Fling meant drinking from morning to night until I signed up as a FlingSafe volunteer. At the training session we heard from Social Planning and Events Committee President and College senior Dasha Barannik and Medical Emergency Response Team Chief and College and Wharton junior Sourav Bose, both of whom will be working hard this weekend along with other members of SPEC and MERT to ensure the student body has a safe and enjoyable Fling.

Although it makes sense, I hadn’t stopped to realize that Fling isn’t this magical event that descends on our campus every year like a holiday. And it’s certainly not a party thrown for us by the administration. Other students work really hard to make our fun weekend happen, and they’re incredibly humble about it.

Both Barannik and Bose have scheduled work shifts but are informally on call for the entire weekend to help out. When asked if working over the weekend was a sacrifice, both said absolutely not — they enjoy the work they do.

And although student leaders obviously work longer hours than other students in helping out, both FlingSafe and MERT volunteers give up a small to significant part of their weekend to help make it happen.

Even for people who aren’t giving up a few hours of debauchery for a free concert ticket, as I am, Fling is in no way ruined by not drinking. Some people, like College senior Shari Abdel-Rahman, plan not to drinking at all during the weekend, which is not as tragic as others would make it out to be.

“Not drinking doesn’t really change my experience from the ‘typical’ Fling because a ‘typical’ Fling for me is hanging out with friends and enjoying the performances put on by our student groups,” she wrote in an e-mail.

I’m not trying to say that drinking is bad or that you shouldn’t drink during Fling. But think of it like this: Remember when your parents always told you Christmas wasn’t about the presents? But what it’s really about is spending time with loved ones, right?

And Fling brings our campus together in a great way. We get to spend time with good friends but also run into people we haven’t seen for a while in the Quad or at the concert or during the carnival. Everyone comes out to see student performances. There are traditions and great food like at any legit family gathering. I’d even go so far as to say Fling has a certain magic about it, like Christmas does.

So in the spirit of Fling, remember this: It’s not all about the booze! Christmas is great all on its own — presents just make it extra special. But if you’re all worked up about what you didn’t get on Christmas morning (don’t lie, I know all of us had years when we were that bratty kid), you miss the point of it being great without the presents. If you focus all your attention on getting wasted, you’ll miss how great Fling can be even without alcohol. And you might ruin it for the people who have to take care of you.

As Bose said, “No one needs to drink for four days straight.” But if that’s your thing, I doubt this column will change your mind. Just remember to be thankful for your peers who make your epic weekend possible. And even more importantly, don’t forget that Fling can be great all on its own.

Katherine Rea is a College junior from Saratoga, Calif. Her e-mail address is Reality Check appears on Fridays.

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