Letter to the Editor: The truth and un-truth of on-campus drinking

To the Editor,

In response to Matt Esposito’s column, “The sober truth – drinking a detriment to college,” published on Sept. 29:

In his editorial, Matt deprecates Lollanobooza as “a flashy Band-Aid that is supposed to stop a gushing arterial wound of society.” Contrary to his belief, Lollanobooza is not designed to be the sole cure for alcohol misuse or abuse. Rather, its primary focus is to serve as a traditional kickoff to the year, where students and staff of the College can stay on campus and have fun on a “Tuesday party night.” While bringing Greek Life, athletics teams and coaches, and various campus organizations together, an added benefit to Lollanobooza is that it offers College students an option to have fun in a drug-free, positive environment. In a random survey of 321 students who attended Lollanobooza 2004, over 90 percent of participants agreed that students can have a good time without getting drunk. Additionally, participants overwhelmingly supported Lollanobooza as a good way to start off the academic year and agreed that the College is concerned about their health and safety. The Alcohol/Drug Education Program (ADEP) office at the College respects Matt’s passion regarding alcohol use among college students. Our office’s mission is to enable College students to recognize those same issues – that is why there are three graduate interns available to provide assistance to students who have concerns about substance misuse/abuse.

In his column, Matt demanded the use of what we call scare tactics, such as “(talking of the) 75,000 people dead!” While ADEP, SADD and Greek Life do sponsor powerful speakers who focus on alcohol-related injuries and death, research finds no successful results (i.e., long-term changes in behavior) from the use of scare tactic strategies. After all, we are all college students. We don’t need to be shocked or scared into not drinking alcohol. We are here to make our own decisions, and the fact is that most College students are already making responsible ones.

In addition to inviting powerful speakers, the College also promotes positive behavior, habits and beliefs. The underlying theories of social norms campaigns suggest that we often perceive our environment to be worse than it actually is. (For example, saying, “I must be the only one not getting smashed this Tuesday night.”) Year after year, surveys show that most College students do NOT engage in damaging behaviors, such as drinking to the extent of harmful consequences. The “Misperceptions” posters or statistics you may have seen around campus is an example of social norms campaigning. By educating students with facts such as these, we hope to make the campus more aware of what decisions their peers are actually making.

Matt, perhaps you may now be able to recognize that there are plenty of other College students who share your choice to drink responsibly or abstain altogether. It seems you are not as alone as you thought you were.

Jessi Boston and Kristen Dunleavy

ADEP Student Employees