Tom and Marty’s owner Larry Shea stepped out of his natural habitat on Monday night to visit students at Binghamton University and teach about safe drinking.
Over 60 student gathered in the Endicott Great Room in Newing College while Shea mixed responsible drinking tips with fun. He discussed sexual consent and bar aggression in between rounds of Family Feud, relaying the information while resident assistants (RAs) checked students’ answers. There was no overall winner, but prizes were awarded after each round to the teams answering correctly.
Endicott RAs Jesse Darsinos, along with Scott Appelman and Tae Kyung Lee — both seniors majoring in accounting — said they organized the event as a way of acknowledging the reality that college students drink while making sure they do it responsibly. Darsinos, a sophomore majoring in political science, said that they invited Shea to host the event because they wanted to teach their residents important information, while doing something they enjoyed.
“Drinking plays such an important role in college life,” Darsinos said. “If students are going to drink we want them to know how to drink safely, and Larry has a brand around his name. We decided to bring what they enjoy doing to them and and we reached a different demographic of people, which we thought was important in teaching them about safe drinking habits.”
Shea stressed the importance of staying in groups and not leaving friends alone when out. He also said to be wary of the type of liquor being consumed, because a shot of one liquor may have a different alcohol content than another drink.
In addition to risky drinking behavior, Shea said aggression and bar fights were topics he was especially passionate about. He shared the story of an event that occured in 2009, when former BU basketball player Miladin Kovacevic attacked another student at the Rathskeller pub, leaving him in a three-month medically induced coma and with a severe brain injury. Shea expressed to students that drinking irresponsibly can have serious, life-altering effects.
“I know a lot of good people who, because of alcohol culture, got in an altercation and didn’t back down and they get arrested and they get kicked out of school and they get hurt,” Shea said. “You don’t understand how serious situations can get and what can go wrong. It happens to normal people.”
Liz Slade, a sophomore majoring is psychology, said that college students need to be educated on how to drink responsibly because they will be surrounded by alcohol regardless of whether they drink or not.
“I think it was an entertaining way to tell us about this topic,” Slade said. “I think it’s relevant for people our age because we go out every weekend, we see this stuff happen.”
Jake Lipton, an undeclared freshman, said he appreciated that the organizers approached the situation of college students drinking realistically.
“You’re living in a fantasy if you’re telling college students not to drink,” Lipton said. “I think the best way to go about it is to say to do it safely. I really liked it, I feel like everyone was more into the topic because he spoke to us like equals, rather than talking down to us.”
Shea said that he tries to regularly talk one-on-one to students about being responsible when drinking, especially if he sees someone getting too drunk at his bar. According to him it is a necessary dialogue, because there are real dangers that come from ignoring the issues.
“For the most part, people use alcohol in a positive way,” Shea said. “It’s a part of their life, but it doesn’t control their life. I didn’t come here to encourage drinking; it’s acknowledging the reality that thousands of students at BU alone are drinking and drinking education can be constructive. Someone needs to say, ‘Well if you are going to drink, here are some things you need to be mindful of.’”