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ISSUE 118 VOL 12 PUBLISHED 3/4/2005

Let us decide to be dry

By Megan Sutherland
Staff Writer


Friday, March 4, 2005

Having recently returned from studying abroad in Lancaster, England, I came back with an alcohol-related crisis: the curse of a dry campus. When I first arrived at the University of Lancaster, I couldn't help but resort to my Olaf-induced attitude: that, despite the fact that I am of legal drinking age, if I act the slightest bit drunk, a Resident Assistant is sure to come and interrogate me about what I've been doing that evening.

Then, maybe we could get on the phone and call my mommy to talk about my behavior or discuss the possibility that I have a problem with alcohol. Because, as we all know, if you have more than one beer at a time you should enter a 12-step program.

However, I quickly snapped out of this mindset when my Junior Common Room (the equivalent of an Olaf RA) instructed me: "Come to the bar tonight. You better be drunk." So it's, well, different to return to a dry campus and re-confront the fact that St Olaf expects that those of legal age will traipse into town and back if they wish to have a beer on a Friday afternoon (or however many beers they want).

Not that I don't love the Cow or the Tavern, but I think I have the right to have a six-pack in my fridge if I want to. Is St. Olaf's dry campus policy a positive aspect that prevents out of control partying? Or is it just another way in which Olaf creates a ridiculously pristine, and ultimately unrealistic microcosm that bears little resemblance to the outside world?

I would have to vote for the latter. The British school I attended was obviously a wet campus. In fact, I once told a British friend of mine that the American school I was visiting from barred alcohol. He looked at me as though I had just asked him if he wanted to join my cult.

The fact is that people do drink on campus. They drink more than those in the administration office would like to pretend. And you know what? There is nothing wrong with that (as long as you're 21 and don't vomit all over Buntrock Commons).

Alcohol isn't the dregs of the devil. It's a staple of college for many people and it can be a great way to unwind and socialize. In England, alcohol wasn't an issue at all. It was part of the culture and part of university life.

People drank a beer with lunch on Sunday afternoon, and many times my corridor-mates and I went on pubcrawls on Monday nights. There was a pub in each of the dormitories and they each functioned as central social settings.

Everything from dance parties to quiz bowl tournaments took place at these pubs. Incidentally, with the recent tuition increase, I couldn't help but think how much money the Pause could make if it started selling beer and mixed drinks.

Think about it, President Thomforde, because honestly, the rising cost of St. Olaf tuition is becoming excessive, and financially daunting.

Ultimately, the point is that refraining from drinking is an unrealistic expectation to have of college students. It's insulting and ridiculous that the college tries to force its morals upon the student body as a whole.

In the same way that those who wish to abstain have the right to say "no thanks," those who want to drink should be afforded the same consideration.


Staff writer Megan Sutherland is a junior from The Woodlands, Tex. She majors in English and history.


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