Why Whitties Drink: The Overlooked Reasons

Dani Hupper

Loosening the mood and lowering inhibitions are not the only reasons Whitman students consume alcohol. In fact, the use of alcohol is most strongly promoted when it’s not even in our presence.

One reason to drink is to build community. You laugh, but think of the support that’s shown at parties and pre-games. First-year halls, off-campus housing, sports teams and men’s and women’s fraternities are just a few communities at Whitman that drink as a bonding activity (calm down Greek life, I know there’s no pressure). Teamwork exercises can include walking someone home, helping someone who is sick and making sure  your buddy doesn’t say something stupid or take off more clothes, etc. These gestures are non-verbal ways of saying Bro, I got your back. Decisions on Friday and Saturday nights can help build (or weaken) the community for the rest of its existence.

Helping others who are intoxicated makes us feel better about ourselves. College is about taking on adult roles. The reminder that we are compassionate and good-hearted people produces confidence in us that carries into the next week.

Drinking stories make great conversation fillers. Who has it, where is it, what type is it, how much was consumed, what happened in result of it and when will the next time to consume it be –– these are all questions that are discussed every day of the week. Small-town/suburb first-years are abundant at Whitman, and their possible previous isolation from alcohol may make the topic all the more thrilling. The conversation starter who vomited? is just as popular as who’s your Encounters professor?

Students also drink for bragging rights, which is my personal favorite. Possibly because of Whitman’s just-keep-it-in-your-room alcohol policy, bragging rights can often be found in the form of room decor. My wall is covered with six-pack packaging because my frat bros and I consumed the beer that was previously in it! I have a poster of John Belushi from “Animal House” chugging Jack Daniels because I also engage in that activity! This makes me cool because alcohol consumption is directly proportionate to masculinity. Bragging rights from alcohol and partying can also be found in the form of verbal communication, through a story whose main purpose is to publicize personal popularity or adventurousness. I am not promoting a negative or positive opinion of alcohol consumption at Whitman, but I do believe its use spills into our social lives even when it’s not present (as it does at hundreds of other schools).

But the biggest reason students drink is not community building, a boosted ego, conversation fillers or bragging rights. It’s the safety net. Word travels fast in such a small student body as Whitman. Chances are people will know about the shameful or humiliating thing you did while intoxicated last night. But do not panic! You can simply blame it on the al-al-al-al-al-al-al-cohol.

I don’t buy it.

Drinking doesn’t give a person romantic feelings towards another out of nowhere –– they stemmed from an initial thought. A couple shots can’t convince a person to do something ridiculous they had no interest in doing otherwise. That interest had to have been there before the night began. Some part of a sober person (however deep or subconscious) wants to partake in the stupid stuff they do while intoxicated.

If you hooked up with that odd chick from chemistry when you were hammered, fess up, because you probably wanted to. If you ran around Ankeny Field in your birthday suit last Saturday, that’s awesome that you had the desire to do that. Alcohol isn’t a justification for humiliating or goofy actions.

So if these are things we subconsciously want to do in our sober state, why can’t we do them without increasing our BAC?

I say it can be done! Throw away the safety net! No excuses! Students should be able to be their weird selves without a couple of Heinekens. Let’s own up to our ridiculousness. The benefits of alcohol consumption –– bizarre comments, spontaneous decisions and hilarious behavior –– can be created in a sober environment.

Streak around Ankeny Tuesday mid-day. You’ll get some looks, but you’ll be making an important point –– alcohol isn’t the only way to do something ridiculous with lots of confidence. We’re Whitties and we’re pretty weird, so chances are someone will think you’re hilarious.

Let’s get drunk seven days a week (sans alcohol). I promise it will be3 soooooo mchh fnnnnnn.