“It’s Friday night, who’s hosting the pregame?” It’s a weekly conversation over text, in a group message, or in-person, as you’re walking down the Spine and see a friend. My Spanish professor jokes that The Rathskeller is trash: “Es basura.” Most of our class laughs, and even for us who don’t, we know The Rat’s reputation of sticky floors and grinding freshmen who can’t get into any of the other bars. When you don’t go out, Saturday nights in the dorms are for Spotify playlists and flip cup.
According to a 2015 study conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 58 percent of full-time college students drink regularly. It doesn’t take much work to find out what party is happening when, or which group on campus throws the most intense parties.
Stress often perpetuates the danger of overconsumption and typically plays a significant role in why students drink in the first place. Having a high level of stress from a long week or from social organizations like Greek life and sports is the norm; however, if a student is releasing their stress through alcohol, it can reach the point of becoming an unhealthy coping mechanism with the potential to morph into a more severe addiction. According to the same National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism study, about 20 percent of college students fit the criteria for an alcohol use disorder. Students are in a vulnerable position that is only exacerbated by fake IDs.
Speaking on a personal level, I have a friend who doesn’t drink because it contradicts his religious beliefs and another who just doesn’t like the way that alcohol makes her feel. Of course, drinking is often the norm among college students, and if one does it safely, then that’s perfectly reasonable. The issue arises when binge drinking becomes a regular activity.
According to Sober College, a rehabilitation center that provides treatment for those struggling with alcohol and addiction, collegiate alcohol abuse is often accompanied by injury, assault, death and academic difficulties. Every year after day-drinking events like Parade Day or Santacon, I seem to hear about a fight, someone getting injured or, in the tragic case of this past Parade Day, a BU student dying. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 1,825 college students die of alcohol-related causes each year. In addition, it is not rare for two people to go home together and not remember if consent was present the next morning. Ninety-seven thousand students report alcohol as a component in their traumatic sexual assault or date rape. All of these factors have the potential to create trauma that is difficult to remedy.
Alcohol is not the devil’s drink and a Manhattan after a long week of classes isn’t necessarily a bad thing — drinking to relax without forming a dependency is fine. However, this is not the reality for many people, and it is possible for those who do not drink to feel a sense of isolation if they don’t go out to State Street on Wednesday for trivia night. There is still 42 percent of college students who do not drink regularly, and those two out of five people deserve the same amount of respect as someone who does choose to drink. There is no place for “Why aren’t you going out?” when it is used in a judgmental way, and frankly, I’m shocked and horrified that I even have to say that in the first place. That should be a given.
Kara Bilello is a junior double-majoring in English and Spanish.