The scourge of Satan’s fun juice


Rune Torgersen, Columnist

College campuses are faced with a unique problem when it comes to planning celebrations. There’s a big stereotype concerning the kinds of activities that take place during parties at the college level. Risk-taking behavior such as drinking, smoking and other staples of the collegiate party scene aren’t necessarily things that schools want to associate themselves with, and CWU is no different. I suspect that this contributes in large part to the planning of various events and activities on Friday and Saturday evenings on campus. If students are busy shooting zombies in the SURC or watching a movie on the Rec lawn, they aren’t busy making fools of themselves out and about in the community. The strategy works twofold, as it protects students’ health and the school’s reputation. With focus specifically on the overconsumption of alcohol, I’d like to take a moment to explore exactly why I think the college party culture in the U.S. is so unhealthy, and what might be done about it.

From a very young age, here in the states at least, alcohol is treated as a forbidden fruit, something only mature adults have access to. At the same time, it’s often depicted as a natural part of any fun evening with friends once one gets old enough to actually consume it. Is it any wonder then that some young adults seem incredibly attracted to the idea of consuming as much of it as possible whenever they can? The quickest way to get a child to do something is telling them that it’s fun, but also against the rules. This leads to the problem with teenage binge-drinking in the U.S., which is only amplified once said teenagers move away from home into the seething mess of self-exploration and irresponsibility that college can be in the wrong hands. They’ve been told their whole lives that alcohol is a fun thing that only grown-ups get to do, and now, they’re told they’re grown-ups.

There’s a second, and perhaps more important factor in all of this: the lack of education concerning safe drinking habits. In my middle-school health class, they used one blanket solution to teach kids about alcohol, sex and drugs.

Abstinence. In other countries, such as my native Denmark, the culture is more focused on educating kids from an early age about the ups and downs of alcohol consumption, along with normalizing it so it doesn’t end up becoming a forbidden fruit. As a result, while beer drinking may be a touch more common, the practices behind it are also healthier. People know from their mid-teens to limit their intake, drink plenty of water and eat food if they decide to partake. They know this because their parents and peers took the time to teach them, as opposed to avoiding the issue and hoping their child never watches TV.

If we stop treating alcohol like it’s Satan’s Fun Juice™ and introduce it as the deeply-rooted cultural phenomenon that it is, a lot of college kids would enter these formative years armed with the knowledge that booze doesn’t make you cool. As far as school events are concerned, alcohol is already occasionally present at them. Art exhibition receptions and various award ceremonies usually have a bar tucked into a corner offering local craft brews and wines. If this sort of well-moderated, reasonable approach to alcohol distribution were taken more broadly, I think it’d be reasonable to begin offering it on more occasions. It’d help to normalize it, and ultimately aid in removing the “forbidden fruit” effect.