Colby has a drinking problem

This past Saturday night, my girlfriend and I decided to try something that we’ve seldom done before: go out completely sober. This wasn’t our original intention, but our day had dictated it. After touring four Portland craft breweries as well as gorging ourselves on the opulent delicacies of Duckfat, the thought of finishing our day with cans of Bud Light physically repulsed us. However, we were comforted by the knowledge that nobody knew of “anything going on.” Even if we had decided to imbibe in our 30 rack of generic swill, we assumed that it would be a waste.

That was our mindset at least until we entered Heights. We were greeted by a swamp of beer in the entry way that lead us to alternatively hear squishes and crinkles as we stepped over mangled Solo cups and Lime-a-Rita cans. Small hordes of students dressed in their stained Saturday’s best roamed the halls like blind wolves, stumbling aimlessly as they hunted for a new watering hole. Room numbers had been peeled from the walls and lay strewn among the various fliers that had only recently inhabited them. An acrid stream of vomit silently snaked about the third floor women’s bathroom while in the male bathroom, a student had passed out on one of the toilets. This is why I drink and if I ever happen to meet one of the Heights custodians, I’ll be sure to buy them one as well.

Unfortunately, the destruction of Heights, the hospitalizations of at least two students, and the drunken debauchery of the Apartments were business as usual at Colby College. While this is problematic in its own right, I was most troubled by what had caused people to be utterly chaotic on a night where nothing was going on. We weren’t “pre-gaming” for the arduous hike over to a concert in the Alfond Center. We weren’t throwing back tequila shots before we headed down to a Page Dance. We weren’t even shot gunning beers before an event for the traditionally sober. Maybe I just missed out on your friend’s sweet rager in the Apartments, but unless everyone decided that Pulver’s free quesadillas would taste much better in a state of blackout, I can’t find a rational explanation behind our prevalent sloppiness. That is, unless I accept Colby’s maxim among students: that we “work hard to play harder.”

As some of you know, I wrote extensively last year on the need for revision regarding Colby’s alcohol policy. While I concede that some of my opinions last year could have been more accurately classified as rants, I believe that I made some potent points, the most crucial being that there is a current disconnect between the college’s ideal policy and the reality. As Colby enters its fourth year of hard alcohol prohibition, I continue to see just as many hollow handles in the Sunday trash as I did when I arrived two years ago. Despite increased security presence, dorm damage remains a prominent issue as does frequent student hospitalizations. Though Alcohol.edu has become an instrumental aspect of our first year education, I have scarcely known a Colby student who hasn’t had at least one really bad night. So in reminiscing on the depravity of last Saturday, I offer a suggestion to President Greene and Eustis: this is the time for Colby to adopt a more realistic alcohol policy and, ironically, I believe the best way to do this is to increase the access to beer and wine at weekend events. 

This may seem counter-intuitive, but in order to explain my logic, let us look to the mixed success of Page dances. Last year, the Administration actively cut down on the number of annual dances due, at least in part, to the low turnout. The problem is that dances and other weekend activities are crucial in order to give the student body a common destination and, more importantly, a distraction from more unsavory (eg. dorm damage, binge drinking, etc.) activities. So how does an increased access to alcohol help students drink responsibly? Simple. Part of the reason binge drinking occurs is due to the perception that once the student leaves for a dance/event, they will no longer have access to alcohol leading to inevitable sobriety. This creates an incentive to binge drink among all students.

In order to increase the attendance of Page dances, I believe the most rational move is to set up a sectioned area in the back of Page where legal students can purchase beer or wine. This would assumedly decrease the number of upperclassmen binging prior to arriving at the dance as well as the number leaving to seek drinks in the Pub. By creating a steady flow of students, dances will become a more viable option for weekend entertainment, limiting the negative externalities that occur when intoxicated, bored students are left to their own devices.

With the swearing in of President Greene, my fellow students and I are intrigued to see his plans for the college.  While we can be sure to expect an increased connection with our beloved city of Waterville, I hope that he remembers to look inward to help solve some of our glaring internal problems that our former administration seemed more than happy to overlook. While the prevalence of alcohol is undoubtedly a nuisance for students, faculty, and perhaps most importantly the staff, it is an ingrained aspect of our lives at college, perhaps only second to Dana burgers. The best thing Colby can do to deter the inevitable negative externalities is by finding ways to use alcohol to create cohesion among the masses rather than bore them toward a path of destruction.

Finally, if I ever meet whoever started this trend of giving away free food in Pulver on weekends, I’ll be sure to buy you a drink as well.