A College Commentary: Doses and mimosas

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Annie Henry

It’s 9 p.m. on a Tuesday night — yes, a weeknight.

You have three exams approaching, two papers due, an incomplete summer internship application and you still don’t know who you are taking to your date party in four days — you are STRESSED.

As you think about how behind on work and overly exhausted you are, your friend asks, “Are you going out tonight?”

The answer is obvious. Yes.

From pregaming the pregame to, “Let’s take shots!” the nightly ritual of layered drinking begins.

Soon enough you are taking pulls of vodka from a plastic container, putting a wine bag to your face and chugging the questionably colored jungle juice everyone warns you about.

It’s no secret alcohol plays a major factor in the college lifestyle. It’s no conspiracy students drink underage, smoke weed and do other illegal drugs.

This isn’t an “above the influence” guide intended to make you feel judged.

But the truth is, the subjects listed above play a role in the college experience, whether or not you choose to participate. It’s important to understand this is occurring, and should you choose to participate in the party culture, be sure to understand the responsibility associated with it.

College is a weird life stage where we are given freedom and get away with acting like children.

It’s humorous that the sweaty people bumping into you at crowded bars could easily be future doctors, government officials and corporate executives.

In an environment fueled by stress, caffeine and unprescribed “study drugs,” students often use any excuse imaginable to relax and let loose.

Pass a test. Drink.

Fail a test. Drink.

Snowday. Drink.

Temperature barely hits 60 degrees. Drink.

While every university is different, one thing each has in common is at any given moment, someone, somewhere is likely drinking.

Although not everyone chooses to drink in college, research shows an overwhelming 80 percent do, and almost half report binge-drinking in the past two weeks.

Doing keg stands, shotgunning beers, slapping the bag.

A little bit of liquid courage and soon enough, you are on an elevated surface, raging face and feeling euphorically free under the glow of dim basement lights.

With minimal external responsibilities, college students are afforded the luxury to focus on the present. Future deadlines seem irrelevant when compared to deciding evening plans. Everything is taken one day at a time.

However, sometimes the attraction to “living in the moment” can cause a disregard of the consequences that can turn a celebratory night out into a dangerous one.

It becomes concerning when students’ laugh at near comatose blood alcohol contents while disregarding safety, health and future impacts.

I’m all for having memorable — or not so memorable — nights, but don’t let these short-lived moments jeopardize those promising futures.

We shouldn’t be skipping meals to “get drunk faster.” We shouldn’t be going out with the hyperbolic motto, “I can’t wait to black out.”

While abundant focus is placed on binge drinking, drugs are also rampant on college campuses. It may not always be visible, but one in five students have done an illicit drug in the past month — ranging from marijuana and cocaine to non-medical use of prescription drugs.

These activities may seem harmless but, if not monitored, can easily become habits that last far beyond college.

Increased access to alcohol and drugs comes with a greater need to understand the risks we take and responsibility we hold with these choices. 

Let me be clear, not everyone at Lehigh is engaging in these precarious college scenes.

For many, the prioritization of party culture epitomizes the excitement to exercise newly found college freedom.

A “broke college student” can have $3.42 in their bank account and won’t hesitate to buy a $2 shot.

Students sleep through their 8 a.m. class but if tailgating begins at 9 a.m., they are up by 7:30 a.m. slamming shots.

Are these priorities something to be proud of? Are they training us to thrive in work settings that exist in the “real world” we enter after college?

If I were to take a guess, landlords don’t rent to people with $0.50 in their bank accounts and companies probably don’t find it acceptable to skip work to day-drink.

Yet, society grooms us to believe that “turning up” is a necessary and acceptable part of college culture.

The narrative portrayed in movies and television constantly asserts that anything less than “having a night” with a comical yet problematic story to tell the next day isn’t the quintessential college experience.

Just take the popular hip-hop song, “I Love College” by Asher Roth. His lyrics capture the idea that beer, bongs and Bankers encapsulate everything college is about. His song preaches that since college must end at some point, we should make the most of it by constantly “chugging” and “doing something crazy.”

However, stories of close calls, drug addictions and deaths are not new. It seems that the scary realities of over-drinking, over-medicating and overdosing are more prevalent now than ever. If these activities aren’t taken seriously, there can be major consequences. Assuming or neglecting responsibility for yourself and those around you can be the difference between life and death.

Maybe you can find some truth in Roth’s classic line, “Time isn’t wasted when you’re getting wasted,” but while experimenting, educate yourself.

Ensure your own safety and understand your accountability, and after that, you can celebrate with a responsible drink.

Annie Henry, ’18, is a community engagement manager and columnist for The Brown and White. She can be reached at [email protected]

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