Conversations series examines drinking

by Deborah Bernstein | 11/17/98 6:00am

Forty students, many of them affiliated with the Greek system, discussed problems with the College drinking culture and possible solutions last night at Kappa Delta Epsilon sorority.

The discussion was part of Student Assembly's ongoing Conversations series, which aims to facilitate honest and open dialogue about specific issues between diverse segments of campus.

Moderators Brian Sleet '00 and Karen Soares '00 facilitated the discussion, which included questions about the roles beer pong, social space and the legal drinking age play in Dartmouth students' drinking.

Several students expressed concern drinking gets in the way of social interaction.

All of the students who spoke wished to remain anonymous.

Pong, specifically, was cited as encouraging binge-drinking and unhealthy interactions between the genders.

"Dartmouth does a poor job of teaching people how to drink responsibly," one member of the class of 1999 said. "I get more out of conversations not around alcohol."

Participants in the dialogue found many problems with the current social scene at fraternities and sororities and suggested ways to improve it, including moving parties from the basement and making them smaller.

Students said more social options, including places that allow drinking, like a campus pub, would offer new ways for students to socialize without focusing exclusively on alcohol.

One student said the College community is lucky the school is small and people can walk home when intoxicated. As the campus gets bigger, Dartmouth has to realize more people might drive while under the influence of alcohol, he said.

One member of the freshman class said he came to the discussion to see what options the College offered for non-drinkers because he has attended fraternity functions and has had a hard time finding other outlets.

An upperclassman said there are numerous social options not involving alcohol available to students. The challenge, another senior said, was to make freshmen aware of and interested in them sooner.

"Even at Orientation, there's the problem of not getting caught drunk before matriculation," he said. "And freshmen are being told to go to the frats for fun."

Dartmouth's D-plan can enable students to gain more perspective on alcohol, a member of the Class of 2000 said. By seeing how other cultures and young people interact with alcohol and each other on Language Study Abroad programs and Foreign Study programs, students can decide what role drinking should play in their lives.

One member of the Class of 2001 said people are always changing the standard for what is an alcohol problem. She also said more direct conversation about alcohol problems, like dialogues about racial and gender problems, could help the community decide what the healthy standards should be.

The event was co-sponsored by Asgard, KDE, Drug Alcohol Peer Advisors and the CFSC.