Staff and Beer

This semester, the jump in alcohol-related hospitalizations already broke the previous record for an entire academic year, set in 2008-09. Whether or not the increase is statistically significant, we know that some students are regularly getting dangerously drunk.
VPSA Chris Dorman hosted a forum on Tuesday concerning our alcohol culture. Students called on their peers to monitor their friends’ and their own alcohol consumption and suggested policies to alleviate the problem: serving food throughout Harris parties to slow the digestion of alcohol, labeling mixed drinks at parties with their alcoholic content and facilitating more peer-to-peer training of safe drinking habits.
Other actions will be taken. ACE plans to eliminate many of the smaller Harris parties to discourage dangerous pre-gaming. Future 10/10s may start earlier and include a dinner to encourage healthier drinking.
Fortunately, student leaders and most administrators seem to understand that students don’t get dangerously sick from beer at college parties, but rather from more concentrated alcohol. Because of this, and in accordance with self-governance, the S&B reasserts that administrative policies that limit student drinking at official college events will, at best, fail to solve the problem and, more likely, backfire, causing students to drink more hard alcohol before going out.
We need a more comprehensive analysis of who drinks dangerously and why. If our alcohol problem is symptomatic of a widespread mental health problem, perhaps we should continue to expand mental health care at SHACS. If it’s exacerbated by academic stress, we should bolster Academic Advising so they can do more for students who need help balancing their lives. If Grinnellians just like to party and don’t mind the risks of alcohol, we need a public awareness campaign about its dangers that students will take seriously, one more legitimate than AlcoholEdu.
No matter what the causes, we as students should step up and look out for each other. The students who were taken to the hospital didn’t party alone; watch out for your friends and take responsibility for yourself.
To that end, we have a suggestion: Drink more beer. Seriously.
Pregame with beer. Drink beer at the party. Drink beer after the party. There is approximately the same amount of alcohol in 1.5 oz. of Hawkeye Vodka as there is in an entire 12 oz. beer. Consuming beer instead of liquor allows slows the rate of intoxication so drinkers realize the potential of entering a dangerous level of drunkenness before unwillingly arriving there by surprise. Additionally, if someone does drink too much beer, the volumetric limit of the human stomach means they are more likely to vomit before suffering from alcohol poisoning. Understandably, some people don’t like the taste of beer or cannot drink it because of dietary of allergenic reasons. In this case, make a mixed drink with a similar alcohol level as beer. As mentioned above, that means 1.5 oz. (a shot and a half) of alcohol for every 12 oz. of soda, juice or whatever mixer you use.
Let’s show, as a student body, our capability to drink responsibly, so the administration doesn’t need to consider punitive measures to protect the health and safety of its students.
Grinnell is a stage on which we learn what role we want alcohol to play in our lives, if any, but our learning process needs to be safe.