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The True Purpose of the Student Health Services Alcohol Cup

Student Health Services distributes plastic cups with lines marking the size of and amount of alcohol in standard drinks for hard liquor, wine, and beer. Many students misunderstand or brush off the true purpose of the cups. Imagine people carrying the cups from frat to frat, using them to explain how much alcohol it will take to do a person in… definitely not the first thing you’re going to think to do with it. While the cups can be used practically, like for holding a toothbrush, their intended use is as an educational tool. Students can use them to practice pouring their own drinks based on what they know they can handle. This method of alcohol education is unique compared to what many of us have grown up with.

Alcohol education starts at school age for most children. In my case, all of the fifth graders were brought into the gym and listened to the school nurse give a presentation on all of the ways that alcoholic beverages could affect our lives. Then we were forced to sign a pledge that saying that we would never touch any drugs for the entirety of our lives.

After speaking to some of my friends, I found that they had had similar experiences. One said that in her seventh grade health class, her teacher had extensively lectured about how the human liver could only handle one drink per hour. At the next family gathering, my friend fearfully trailed behind all of her relatives, telling them to slow down with their all of their drinks. Otherwise, their organs would suffer dire consequences.

One of my high school friends said that her class was brought into an assembly in the eleventh grade where the students were all forced to sign pledges similar to my elementary school one. Then the school’s administration began to tell unrealistic horror stories about alcohol that triggered a collective eye roll from everyone in the room. My friend said that everything they were taught seemed so farfetched that it was ridiculous. No one listened to any of the information that was being provided, even if some of it was true or useful because the consequences were described in such a nonsensical way.

The teaching methods of these alcohol cups are different because rather than delivering a series of scare tactics to attempt to discourage drinking altogether, they accept that drinking will happen in the college setting. They explain how drinking can be done in a responsible and safe fashion instead of denying that it will ever occur. This is a system that is more likely to get students to listen.


Consider the cup’s true purpose before you use it as a toothbrush holder. 

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