Student Life

Jaipuriar: Keep your drinks close, but your friends closer

They say college flies by so fast it’s a blur — but maybe that’s because of the alcohol.

Drinking at Syracuse University has been especially prominent in the past few weeks with basketball successes prompting day-long parties at Castle Court. Despite the snow, the sun is finally coming out and ‘Cuse is more lit than ever heading into the last few weeks of the semester — a party culture in which students take pride and university authorities grimace.

But while drinking at SU is accepted as the norm and even encouraged as a rite of passage, the dangers of this behavior should be periodically discussed. No matter how redundant the conversation around alcohol may sound, children don’t come out of the womb with a Bud Light in hand considering there are new drinkers constantly being initiated to the underage drinking club.

And given the risks, a little extra dialogue on the subject can’t hurt when every student has a different knowledge of alcohol. Some come from families that drink on the regular while others probably rely on what they remember from their middle school “DARE” program, making it crucial for students to take care of each other when going out.

An unfortunate caveat of college drinking is that many students have their first experience with alcohol on campus — yet there’s this unspoken pressure to know exactly what you’re doing and to have a respectable tolerance. For some, it’s a game of pretend because you don’t want to be the man or woman that goes to the bar and says, “I’ll have one alcohol please.” So even though we all have different limits, based on gender, weight and previous experience with drinking, there’s an expectation to keep chugging.

That’s not to say that every time you go out, people will attack you and force liquor down your throat. But when a student is in an overwhelming social setting where everyone seems to be having fun, they may not want to be the sober party pooper. It’s not direct peer pressure, but it’s definitely “beer pressure” that lower inhibitions and encourages excessive drinking.

And it seems most students have been in this situation at one point or another. More than one-third of college students engage in binge drinking monthly and about 20 percent meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder, according to a study released in March by the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

It’s not likely that universities or authorities will have success in getting college students to stop binge drinking, much less drinking altogether. Massive tailgates at Castle Court rage on despite a ban placed in 2014, which is pitiful considering a rowdy handful of students appear to have more power than an entire institution and safety force.

It’s difficult for students to even take these regulations seriously when alcohol flows so freely on campus and getting a fake ID is as easy as taking a shot. (Does anyone even stop to think who those masterminds were behind those big fake ID group orders?) It’s like being in a weird stage of limbo: There are rules, but students don’t follow them and authorities don’t enforce them. So why put on the façade?

Obviously, students have no regard for the federal minimum drinking age. But they should feel morally obligated to one another.

Friends shouldn’t just be there for the dancing and fun pictures — they should also be able to take care of you when things get out of hand. This unfortunately is not the case as every weekend, there’s always at least one group of kids struggling to help their very drunk friend. It’s sad to see kids in such a terrible state, blacked out and unable to even walk, but even worse is seeing their peers unable or hesitant to call for help.

These incidents prove that despite education initiatives like BE Wise awareness campaign, typical misconceptions about alcohol exist: Sleeping it off is possible, and calling for medical attention is unnecessary.

Despite an amnesty policy that guarantees protection from punishment if students seek care for a drunk friend, they may worry about expensive hospital bills, their parents finding out and being known as the person who couldn’t “handle” their alcohol.

Though there are education opportunities on drugs and alcohol in college, they often focus on personal health risks and not enough on peer responsibility. If you really embrace party culture, you’ll also embrace the people you party with — especially at a time to be particularly conscious of alcohol consumption, given that Mayfest and graduation are coming up.

So enjoy the party while it lasts. Alcohol may be soaked into SU’s culture, but taking care of each other should be, too.

Rashika Jaipuriar is a freshman broadcast and digital journalism major. Her column appears weekly. She can be reached at rjaipuri@syr.edu and followed on Twitter @rashikajpr.

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