Students find alternatives to drinking

By Joel Hattis

It is not a secret that underage drinking goes on at the University – so much so that those who withhold from such activities are sometimes viewed as a minority.

This does not mean that people who do not drink keep to themselves or only hang out with other people who do not drink.

Rob Wallon, for instance, feels like he does most everything his friends who drink do – minus the drinking.

“I go to parties,” said Wallon, freshman in LAS. “When people go out, I still go with them.”

Jackie Jordan, sophomore in LAS, loves to go to the bars.

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“I went to a bar this weekend, didn’t drink, and had a blast,” she said. “I played drinking games with the other people there and when I’d lose, I’d take a swig of water.”

Underage drinking has gotten to the point where one needs an excuse not to drink rather than an excuse to drink.

These reasons people choose not to drink are often, but not necessarily, religious.

“I used to drink,” Jordan said. “Over break I kind of got more in touch with my faith.”

Along with it going against his faith, Kieron Frazier also saw high school athletics as a reason to steer clear.

“If you got home from (football) practice and just went out and drank or whatever, you would basically be throwing away your workout,” said Frazier, sophomore in LAS.

Wallon was also an athlete in high school. His school was very strict with its no-drinking policy. His fear of not being able to compete was enough to originally convince him not to drink.

Just because a few people are comfortable with going to parties or the bars and staying sober does not mean everyone is. For these individuals, there is still plenty to do on campus.

The Illini Union Board presents a semi-weekly movie in one of the campus facilities, and, on various weekends, a fresh-from-the-theaters movie will show four times.

IUB also puts on events throughout the year such as Illinites, the annual Spring Musical and the Mom’s Fashion Show.

“People always say there’s nothing to do, but there is,” Wallon said. “There’s always shooting pool, just hanging out with friends, or playing cards.”

Part of the reason that people may have trouble finding something to do is they have trouble finding people to do it with.

Organizations like Alpha Phi Omega, a service fraternity, could be the kinds of places to start looking.

“One of the biggest criteria (for grouping members) is whether or not they drink,” said Wallon, a member of the organization. “If they don’t, we pair them with other people who don’t.”

Frazier suggested for those of a given faith, that there are many faith-based organizations on campus that sponsor alcohol-free activities every weekend.

Every weekend around campus, many people drink. Each has his or her own reason. Some do it because they feel like it is the only way to have fun.

Jordan knows that is not true.

“One of my friends came up to me,” Jordan said. “She told me, ‘I wish I could be like you and not drink and still have fun.'”