Our campus’ relationship with alcohol

It’s the second week of the semester, and even including the newly minted class of 2020, it’s unlikely that there is any group of students on campus but an extreme minority that has not personally experienced or witnessed some negative consequences of alcohol use. It comes in many forms: a sick roommate requiring care, a less-than-tidy dorm floor bathroom, or perhaps as innocuous as an embarrassing text sent to that not-so-recent ex. Things like these are accepted standard fare for a Saturday night at Denison; they’re generally pretty well repaired with an apology.

Though slightly less frequent, are also more sinister consequences: vandalism, alcohol poisoning or worse.

There’s one thing these all have in common: they’re on us as students. We’re lucky to be students at a college where the faculty and staff are so engaged in campus culture — but that only extends so far.  Drinking culture on campus is one of the few things that is uniquely in the hands of the student body.

While it’s true that there’s a whole host of programming about drinking responsibly during August orientation for first-year students, as well as information put out by Whisler on topics like “drunkorexia,” on Friday and Saturday and Wednesday nights, those folks go home. On those nights, whatever the Denison faculty and staff tried to hammer into students’ heads, all bets are off so to speak.  It is up to the community at large to protect one another, and the community falls short for a number of reasons.

Some friends fear ostracization if they confront those they care about concerning their alcohol and drug consumption.  They show support at all costs even to the point that it might be hurting the one they care about.

In the end, when it comes to those that are vandalizing our campus, that are sending themselves to the hospital because of liquor, there’s not much faculty and staff can do. We hold need to hold ourselves accountable and realize that when we drink to that point, we are putting everything we have worked for and many things we care about at risk.

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