Drinking culture at UD: Why it matters

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“No animal ever invented something so bad as drunkenness — or so good as drink.” This quote from G.K. Chesterton easily sums up what a proper drinking experience should be. 

I grew up in a secular college town, with a “normal” type of party scene.  In comparison, the party culture here at UD is certainly unique. What other school is obsessed with “Stacy’s Mom” or celebrates Groundhog day as the biggest event of the year? 

Quirky traditions aside, there is another difference present in UD’s party scene which is crucial: the primary end of partying. UD students are not drinking simply to drink, rather there is another higher purpose for their socializing: the situations in which they drink seek to facilitate fellowship and friendship. 

Alcohol is a part of the equation either way; this seems to be an almost unavoidable aspect of any college. It is nearly impossible to  prevent consumption of alcohol among college aged young adults, so why not address the aspect of party culture that one can control: the environment in which one is drinking? 

My first semester at UD I was taken aback by the willingness of my classmates in the party setting to engage in conversation. By conversation, I don’t simply mean the basic party small talk that I was familiar with pre-UD. Rather, I mean the deep conversations that have transpired on many an Old Mill balcony or by a dwindling fire in the woods, conversations prompted by our Core classes in philosophy and English, and experiences that we all share in common. 

These conversations, spoken deeply from the heart, are often initiated by a drink, or two, which offers courage and loosen’s one tongue in a manner fitting for such conversations. If the end of each and every party was simply to get trashed, no one would care for, or even be able to have such conversations. 

The events at UD which many students choose to celebrate with alcohol are often centered around something higher, even something as silly as a groundhog. People are not drinking simply to drink. The many scenarios at UD in which students gather around a table to collect a drink are followed by something else: whether it be anything from listening to talk by a fellow classmate to dancing one’s heart out at TGIT. 

I firmly believe it is possible to not drink in these situations and still be able to participate in their primary purpose. Few other schools can boast this. 

The environment fostered at UD is, simply put, holistic. Because drinking is inevitably part of the culture, it is our responsibility to incorporate the way we drink with the values we are learning, which as we can all agree, are exceptionally good. 

It cannot be said that every student orders their lives this way. It is true that the goodness of drink is often and quickly turned to the sin of drunkenness. But that looks different for everyone. I personally know many students who are capable of the virtue of temperance with regards to drinking. They truly know how to drink well. 

Simply because others choose to “get wasted” does not necessitate that that is the only correct way to drink. Drinking in itself is a good; it provides merriment and laughter and conversation and wit. It is up to one’s individual discretion when that line is crossed, a discretion which is properly fostered by such a holistic education. 

Saint John Crysostom once said: “Let there be no drunkenness; for wine is the work of God, but drunkenness is the work of the devil. Wine makes not drunkenness; but intemperance produces it.” I am sure he would be in agreement then, that it is entirely possible to foster an environment in which one can utilize and practice their virtue of temperance along with use of alcohol. 

Though virtue is clearly a higher good, both virtue and alcohol are gifts of God and therefore must be ordered properly in order to live in a correct manner. What better place to cultivate and order one’s life than here?

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