Party State University

College campuses are often portrayed as dens of hedonism and sin. The student body is imagined to spend most of its time drinking excessively and then proceeding to vomit excessively.

College campuses are often portrayed as dens of hedonism and sin. The student body is imagined to spend most of its time drinking excessively and then proceeding to vomit excessively. Students, when first entering college, have the expectation that they are entering into a zone where they are safe from the consequences of binge drinking—and it’s somewhat true. But does this mean students should be encouraged to drink on campus?

In a recent interview with the Vanguard [“Adam Rahmlow interview transcript,” May 20], ASPSU President-elect Adam Rahmlow related his thoughts regarding college parties.

“I think the school environment is a safe environment to help connect in a healthy way. In my mind, the rooftop party is, ideally, a safe place for students to get together.” Rahmlow said. “Would you rather have your kids lie to you and go out drinking and driving, or turn a blind eye once in a while, as a parent? I think it’s better to encourage honesty, and the reality is that this is college. We don’t have a Greek life here. To be quite frank, parties are the best way to connect students. From my perspective, it also offers a really good alternative to going to the clubs.”

There is quite a bit packed into that statement with several parts that are disconcerting. By encouraging students to party on campus, aren’t we just bringing many of the problems that occur in bars into an educational environment?

The main purpose of pursing higher education is to gain an education. While socializing and making friends is very important to the college experience, drinking isn’t an academic activity—unless of course your assignment is to figure out the quickest way to act like a jackass.

Additionally, and not to be a Debbie Downer, it seems a little strange that the university and the student government should be encouraging behavior linked to a habit that kills over 100,000 people annually. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, almost half of all fatal automobile accidents are attributed to alcohol, and 60 percent of homicides are attributed to alcohol abuse.

Currently, Portland State’s Housing Handbook “acknowledges the use of alcohol by students of legal age as a personal choice.” Now, there is a big difference between binge drinking and enjoying a couple beers. Yet many students, especially those who are underage, don’t know their limits. Thus, it’s easy to get carried away—a fact known by anyone who has ever drank tequila.

If shindigs were to be held on PSU grounds or in PSU housing, they would have to follow University rules and policies. The Campus Public Safety Office would therefore have more authority over said parties than the actual police. That leaves campus drinking enforcement and drunk-wrangling responsibilities to CPSO, which certainly has more important duties than leading vomit-soaked students back to their dorms.

Along with school sanctioned partying, there can come a mass of distasteful alcohol-related issues such as sexual assault, domestic violence, car accidents, among other things. All of these incidents would also fall under CPSO/PSU jurisdiction, and the university would therefore be liable for all accidents and crimes against students.

This advocacy for student drinking or partying also brings up the issue of underage drinking. “I’ve gotten in trouble a couple times in the dorms,” said an anonymous Portland State freshman. “Once I was fined $50. One time, on New Year’s Eve, we had like ten bottles of hard liquor in our room and the RA’s only made us pour out about half of our liquor because they didn’t notice the rest of it. One of my friends was passed out on my bed and they didn’t notice. Later I was only fined $10 and had to write a 300-word essay. They didn’t do jack.”

The lax rules surrounding underage drinking prevent students from realizing that there are consequences to their actions. Problems can also occur when a student becomes alcohol-dependant. Without any sort of genuine consequences for their actions, students will only continue down a negative path.

While not every drinking experience is negative, there are enough risks to the activity that student government should not be advocating it. Not only does it put students in potential physical danger, it detracts from the academic environment on campus. Students should be encouraged to get together, but liquor and the chance to get blasted shouldn’t be a feature. ?