Friday afternoons at Boston College can mean many different things. For one, it could mean locking yourself in your dorm room to frantically finish an International Studies project that you have to turn in to your professor that evening. It could entail going to the pho restaurant in Allston that you and your roommate have been meaning to try for ages but for some reason never did. It could also mean taking the T to your service placement for PULSE. Whatever the case may be and whatever you may be doing beforehand, Friday nights at Boston College usually converge to mean one thing: finding yourself at a party with loud music blaring in the background.
This is where drinking culture in BC starts to rear its ugly head. This is an issue that is not endemic to merely BC. It is the same in many colleges—and it is even worse on other campuses.
I am not here to tell you to stop drinking or to judge you for it. I am, after all, a college student in an American university, just like you. I do intend, however, to make you more cognizant of drinking culture here at this school and the consequences that it brings. Even though this culture may not seem dangerous right now, it could be exacerbated to even greater extents—and I suggest that we curtail it before it arrives to said point.
It is at parties that you situate yourself amid a whole host of individuals who, in their drunken stupor, are attempting to start conversations with other people. On the tables, you register the presence of half-empty red Solo cups, all of them filled with some type of alcoholic concoction. In your hands, you are holding one yourself. Perhaps it is completely different from the one you had the week before—instead of mixing Jose Cuervo with lemonade, you choose to have an amalgamation of Bacardi and Diet Coke. Or maybe in lieu of a cup, your fingers are securely clasped around your third White Claw in your favorite flavor: black cherry.
You are having tons of fun, talking to people whom you could never muster up the courage to converse with sober, and you are breaking out dance moves that you would usually be too shy to showcase. The next thing you know, you wake up on your couch in your eight-man the morning after with only half-baked memories to tell you of how you ended up there after last night’s festivities.
You tell yourself that you will never drink again, regardless of how left out you will feel as a result of it. No matter how much you repeat this mantra to yourself, and in spite of the effort you dedicate into attempting to follow it, you will find yourself in the same position yet again the following Friday night.
Why do we, as college students, choose to drink so frequently even after suffering from the negative consequences of committing such acts?
We go to college with the understanding that drinking is normal, and that it is expected of you. We believe that people utilize these four years of their lives to not only find themselves, but to fill their bodies with as much alcohol as they are capable of consuming. The worst thing you can do as a college student is to be the odd one out, and you know beyond an iota of doubt that abstinence will give you this label. Your last desire is to be an outlier, but this is impossible to avoid when you refuse to drink alcohol and partake in activities that involve it.
The fear of missing out is often the motive students need to go out on the weekends. Almost every single event hosted by clubs at BC, whether it be formals or socials, will involve some type of pregame before the actual event. It is at these pregames that individuals do most of their drinking. If a student misses the pregame, they miss out on the experience. They miss out on bonding with other students who they would probably never talk to in a classroom setting, they miss out on inside jokes that will be talked about for weeks thereafter, and they miss out on the sense of belonging that they, as a college student, so desperately desire.
If you come to the actual event sober, untouched by any form of alcohol, unlike the rest of your friends, you may feel left out and can fall under the belief that you will have less of a good time, despite the fact that you will not be the one nursing a piercing headache and a wicked hangover the day after. Even when we partake in a school-sponsored activity, like a home football game, we are programmed to feel as though we do not belong to campus culture if we choose to stay away from alcohol during tailgates. After all, what’s the point of tailgating if it is not to take in as much good food and alcoholic drinks as possible?
The truth is, it is so hard to have a social life or to feel like you fit in when you choose not to drink. When other people are cognizant of the fact that you drink, you get invited to parties, you are considered cool, and, most importantly, you become part of the world in which others who don’t want anything to do with alcohol are not privy. When it comes to this trade-off, some students will most definitely make the decision that will guarantee a better chance at having friends in college, even if it is to their detriment.
As a result of the mindset that we have cultivated as a student body, we see myriads of alarming outcomes. Individuals feel as though they need to overcompensate and make it a point to prove to others that they can, indeed, drink (because God forbid anyone thinks you do not, in fact, enjoy drinking). Due to this, they tend to choose to drink more than they are capable of, and they suffer the consequences of doing so in different forms: they either black out, encounter a horrible hangover the next day, or, in the worst case, are transported.
The most deleterious part of the mindset that we have developed, therefore, is not even the fact that there exists an abundance of alcoholic substances around campus. Instead, it is the fact that we have promulgated the notion that all of this—the drinking, the need to drink in front of others to feel like you belong, the over-consumption of alcohol, and the emergency rooms, among other things—is normal. We normalize drinking culture and all the things that come with it, and we fool ourselves into believing that it is an outlook that we can keep on sustaining without hurting ourselves.