It’s Friday night and your classes are over until Monday. For many students this is a time to chill with their friends. Chilling out may involve socializing off-campus. Fraternity and sorority house parties as well as parties organized by individuals both students and non-students are a common part of college life. You may choose to attend these social gatherings. However, more often than not these gatherings may involve the consumption of alcohol. If you are under the age of 21 you need to familiarize yourself with the University Alcohol Policy. These policies very clear and strictly enforced especially when it comes to underage drinking.
Studies have shown that a small amount of alcohol can cause impaired judgment in young inexperienced drinkers. Alcohol can contribute to public intoxication, drunk driving and in some cases result in sexual assault and date rape. These situations are more likely to occur when excessive drinking is involved.
Part of my responsibility as former Director of Student Life and counsel member of the University Drug and Alcohol Committee was attending campus Disciplinary Hearings involving underage drinking. When questioned many students admitted having no recollection of what happened; some admitted being unconscious, others required the services of the college infirmary for treatment of cuts and bruises due to aggressive behavior or fighting while intoxicated. In the worst cases severe alcohol poisoning required students to be hospitalized.
Parents understandably worry about the possibility of their student drinking at such parties. Students as well as parents should familiarize themselves with the legal drinking age in the state where you will attend college. The consumption of any alcoholic product [by a minor] is in most states illegal prior to the age of 21 and may result in monetary fines, university disciplinary charges and in severe cases criminal arrest by law enforcement.
Even if you are over the legal drinking age of 21 excessive drinking can still be risky. All night parties that involving binge drinking can effect your mental concentration, grade point average, and limit your ability to function in class.
If you still choose to drink, remember the following simple rules:
Drunk Driving: Friends don’t let friends drive drunk or ride with someone who has been drinking excessively.
Unattended Drinks: Never leave your drink, alcoholic or non-alcoholic unattended. If you must leave your drink unattended ask the bartender to hold it, a trusted friend or simply dispose of it and get another.
Designated Driver(s): Identify your non-drinking designated friend and driver. If there isn’t one call for a taxi, contact a local family member. If you are living on campus call your residence hall staff.
Location: Let someone know where you are going. If you decide to leave and go to another party alone update your room-mate, friends, family to your whereabouts.
Communication: Make sure your cell phone is fully charged before you leave home, residence hall, apartment, etc. It could be your only means of communication in an emergency situation.
Stranger Danger: Something we’ve learned as children and still holds true – never accept a ride from a stranger especially after you’ve been drinking.
Leave: If the party goes beyond your comfort level, LEAVE! Call someone to pick you up or walk you back to your residence.
Remember: STAY ALERT, STAY SAFE and if in doubt call your Campus Police or 911.
Deb Martin-Webster, former Director of Student Life
Temple University/Tyler School of Art
Drug and Alcohol Referral and Education – DARE