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Drinking Responsibly On Campus

It is impossible to deny the fact that alcohol will be a part of the social experience at any college in the United States, and Connecticut College is obviously no exception. In a recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, President Higdon cited numbers from the CORE Institute, “which maintains the largest national database of statistics on college students’ drinking and drug use” that indicate that “72 percent of all college students consumed alcohol in the preceding 30 days, 65 percent of under-age students consumed alcohol during the same period, and 46 percent of all students reported binge drinking — consuming five or more drinks in one sitting — in the previous two weeks.”

These statistics may not be reflective of Conn itself, but we all know that students drink here. We know this because of our varying social experiences on campus, but also because of some of the negative consequences we experience or hear about, such as dorm damages and vandalism, but also potentially serious consequences to individual health: alcohol poisoning, transportation to local hospitals, and all other risks associated with drinking alcohol.

The intention of this article is not to dissuade students from drinking, nor does it serve as a blanket statement arguing that drinking is “bad.” This is because:

  1. In no way, shape, or form would this article actually do anything to stop students from drinking. 
  2. I personally think the U.S. policies are unrealistic and we should get more on par with the rest of the world.
  3. Drinking alcohol isn’t inherently “bad” when done responsibly.  

Responsibility, therefore, is the watchword. We’re at the age where we think we’re infallible, but in reality, we really aren’t. It’s when we forget and ignore that all of our actions have consequences for ourselves and for others, particularly in the context of alcohol, that bad things start to happen. The purpose of this article is not to place blame on students who drink versus those that don’t or to advocate for abstinence, but merely to emphasize being responsible and to discuss the ways in which Connecticut College emphasizes this as well. Drinking alcohol can have positive effects on student life — stress management, relaxation, social interaction — and instead of focusing on abstinence policies, I wanted to learn more about Conn’s position on responsibility: the programs that acknowledge the presence of drinking on campus while still trying to maintain and ensure student safety.

Policy at Conn

My research for this article led me to CC Curtis, the Director of Student Wellness and AOD Education, who joined the campus community in 2005. Since then, she has worked tirelessly as a safety net for students by creating educational and awareness programs that encourage students to act in healthy and responsible ways. In my email discussion with her, CC was able to tell me more about the programs that she organizes that in no way advocate (largely underage) drinking, but encourage students to be responsible if they do choose to drink. This effort begins with creating a dialog on alcohol, starting freshman year with the AlcoholEdu online course before orientation, and a workshop during orientation (gotta love those clickers!). Continuously throughout the year, there are also education programs in residence halls with the support of house staff and the Peer Health Educators, or PEEPS.

If a student has had a negative experience with alcohol that results in them violating alcohol policies, there is a support network available. Many of the educational programs focus on bystander intervention, or training students to safely intervene in situations that may have negative effects on another student’s health. Connecticut College also has a medical amnesty policy, which means that if a student requires medical help for alcohol related issues, the student cannot get in trouble for being underage. This is to encourage students to seek medical attention if they need it, regardless of their class year or age. In addition, the college also seeks to help students recover from these experiences, by facilitating Choices group workshops and BASICS sessions, as well as meetings with various staff members, in order to maintain the students’ health and well-being.  

For most people, enjoying a drink or two with friends is not an issue, but if students choose to drink more than that, we, as students, always need to be considerate of ourselves, our peers, and our campus community. If you or someone you know needs support in making decisions or making changes to current habits, the Office of Student Wellness and AOD Education is here to help. Check out their resources below:

Student Wellness and AOD Education: http://www.conncoll.edu/campus-life/student-wellness/

Student Counseling Services: https://www.conncoll.edu/campus-life/student-counseling-services/

Student Health Services:  https://www.conncoll.edu/campus-life/student-health-services/

I'm a history major here at Conn and in addition to being a writer for Her Campus,  I am also a SISTER mentor, meaning that I do fun activities with local middle school girls twice a week! This semester I am applying to PICA, a certificate program in public policy and community action, and designing a project around how after-school programs can counteract inequalities within the public education system. In addition to being socially active, I love hanging out with my friends, being silly, reading books, and drinking tea! My current obsessions include: Passion Pit, the Wombats, Downton Abbey, and pretending to be a secret agent when watching Covert Affairs.
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