We can’t hold our liquor.
Two weeks ago, in an attempt to to reduce what The New York Times tactfully called “alcohol-soaked student misbehavior,” Dartmouth banned hard alcohol on campus. I’m skeptical that this policy will work, and I don’t think Penn should take similar action. We need to take the impetus on ourselves to combat the problems that come along with drinking.
I’ve found that Penn students, myself included, are not receptive to alcohol education. This summer when the Penn Alcohol Module came out, my class got a kick out of the ways we could avoid actually watching the educational videos. We blew up the Class of 2018 Facebook group with, “lol I just left the video playing and went away” comments and, “Does anyone actually take this seriously?” I understand why we have this gut aversion to being taught how to drink. We’re adults, we think. We can handle this on our own.
We can’t, though. The MERT statistics are shocking: This past NSO saw a 65 percent increase in hospital transports. An article in the DP last week featured quotes from multiple students discussing their black out experiences, and far too many of us can relate. I’ve heard the excuses before — “We’ve all been there,” “It’s college.” We refuse to accept that we can’t drink responsibly.
Our campus has turned MERT into a passive verb: “Yeah, he got MERTed last night,” I hear during Sunday brunch at Hill. Even though we treat MERTing casually, many of us don’t rely on its services enough. I’ve had multiple friends tell me to never call MERT on them, even if they’re dangerously intoxicated. As one flat-out told me, “I’d rather die than get MERTed.”
Here’s another wrinkle: Penn students talk about alcohol. A lot. It’s hard not to let drinking dominate our conversations, especially during pledging. We’re so scattered that when we finally make that lunch date with that friend we haven’t seen in two weeks, we have the urge to recap our stories — and a lot of those were created as members of the Banker’s Club. I haven’t passed a single day at Penn without a conversation about alcohol: what so-and-so did drunkenly, what type of booze someone is bringing to the pregame. But we don’t talk about responsible ways to drink.
We’re embarrassed to admit that we can’t handle our alcohol. No one wants to be the person who can’t go out. Nobody wants to ask for help.
Whether we ask for it or not, though, there are resources here to help us. DAPA, Penn’s Drug and Alcohol Peer Advisor program, works to educate the Penn community on how to “party smartly.”
“Students get the wrong idea that not drinking is the only way to drink responsibly. DAPA doesn’t want to stop you from drinking,” said Theodore Caputi, DAPA’s co-president. “We just want you to be safe. While not drinking is certainly one responsible option for students, those who want to drink have ways to do it safely.”
Staying safe doesn’t have to mean staying in. “Students also have the misconception that safe drinking is boring drinking. Actually, safe drinking and drug use shouldn’t kill your buzz — and it’s pretty easy to do. Three of the top tips we provide are: Hydrate before and during drinking, eat proteins and carbohydrates while drinking and party with a buddy.”
Caputi believes there needs to be more of a dialogue about safe drinking on campus. “Penn student groups, especially frats, sororities and residence halls, need to have more informed, non-judgemental conversations about safe drinking. Too many college students are hospitalized for unsafe drinking practices, and some even die ... This harm is avoidable.”
As Penn students, we need to be more receptive to DAPA’s message. We should be more mature and take ownership over alcohol education. We don’t need to stop drinking or push for Dartmouth-like measures — we just need to learn to drink safely. For better or for worse, drinking for most of us means pretending to be more adult than we actually are. It’s time we accept the responsibility that comes with that.Comments powered by Disqus
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