Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

When Whitties drink…

Photoillustration by Hendershot

This article was co-authored by Kelsey Kennedy and Patricia Vanderbilt.

It’s your average Friday night at Whitman College. Classes are done and the last-minute paper you chose to start at 3 a.m. is turned in. In the words of the brilliant lyricist Rebecca Black, many Whitman students are “partyin’, partyin’, yeah” whether or not they legitimately have the time to do so in their filled-to-the-max, Google-cal’d-out schedules.

Alcohol is, for some, an important aspect of the exploratory college years.

“I think drinking is an integral part of American culture,” Maherin Ahmed, a senior international student from Bangladesh.

The administration treats drinking in a realistic manner, acknowledging that it does happen and encouraging responsible choices.

“I take more preventative and combative angles against the negative affects of drinking. If students choose to drink we encourage them to do it in a moderate way to minimize unsafe situations for you and your friends,” said Barbara Maxwell, associate dean of students.

Drinking habits at Whitman range from those who don’t touch a drop of alcohol to those who “get crunk” three or four nights a week. Frat row booms with thumping bass and the floors of student houses bounce under the weight of dancing bodies.

“I rarely go to frat parties, but most people I kick it with like to get crunk. I’m not a huge drinker,” said senior Robert Crenshaw.

On Friday you walk across Ankeny Field and look back at the library where some poor soul is working on thesis research. You make the rounds with your friends and choose a location depending on what you’re in the mood for: a dance party (read: you’re looking for more than just a dance partner for the evening), drinking games or perhaps an “herbal refreshment.”

“Around 11 p.m. there’s a battle about lights: between the dancers who want the lights off and the Beiruters who want the lights on. By 1 a.m. you’re paired off or going home, ” said junior Rhya Milici.

The vessels of choice are red cups or Mason jars, which send the message that while you might not drink responsibly, you certainly recycle responsibly. Dress code is casual — Chacos, flannel, the illustrious blue shirt if you’re lucky — are out in full force. Don’t bother busting out your heels or chic black dress; you’ll get weird looks.

Though the fraternity houses are a reliable source of parties to students both Greek and indie, they are by no means the only — or even preferred — locale for students looking to get tipsy. In a Pioneer survey of 304 students, 82 percent reported that they most commonly consume alcohol at an off-campus house.

“The biggest difference between frat parties and house parties is the size of the group. House parties can feel more cramped. Also, the music is less mainstream because it’s someone’s personal iTunes. House parties also have to deal with more noise complaints,” said Milici.

At your party of choice, you overhear an incredibly intense drunken conversation about which “Harry Potter” spell is the coolest and remember that you’re at Whitman, where being a huge nerd is the standard regardless of the amount of alcohol in the bloodstream.

“Just last night I was discussing the ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ while walking back from The Green with a friend,” said junior Caitlin Feeney.

The Whitman party scene is anything but exclusive. A student can walk down Isaacs, head for the house with the loud music and clumps of people scattered in the yard, walk in, and either join the mass on the dance floor or head straight for the keg. The small size of the student body tends to foster a “the more the merrier” attitude amongst party-goers. But not all students choose to drink.

“Drinking isn’t as much part of the culture here as in other colleges. I think it would be a lot worse in other places,” said alumnus Jesus Vasquez ’09.

“I think there’s a larger presence of people who drink than those who don’t, but it’s cool to not drink,” Crenshaw said.

The Pioneer survey found that 82 percent of students polled were drinkers. The remaining 18 percent can easily find other things to do.

“If I don’t feel like going to parties with alcohol, I sometimes watch movies or play games. As an alternative to drinking alcohol, I drink tea.” said senior Thu Tran.

Thirteen percent said that they drink because “there is nothing else to do” and only three students reported drinking due to peer pressure. Personal choices regarding alcohol consumption are usually respected, but not always.  Crenshaw admitted that in one instance he once felt pressured to drink more than he intended. Moreover, the pervasiveness of drinking at parties can alienate those who do not drink.

“You run the risk of being socially ostracized if you put your values on the table that you don’t drink,” said Ahmed.

Forty percent of students polled said that they drink “because my friends are drinking,” suggesting that alcohol consumption is a norm in Whitman social life. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that students feel that they must drink in order to be socially accepted : 10 percent of students polled said they drink “to fit in.”

Weekend nights are  about meeting people and bonding with friends, giving hormones a free rein, and dancing the stress away. For many, alcohol is a key ingredient.

View Comments (1)
More to Discover

Comments (1)

All Whitman Wire Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • G

    GoodismanApr 14, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    THIS is the feature story of your issue? Egad. What a waste of electrons