Column: Sober up, Champaign

By Jenette Sturges

What I am about to say is something really unpopular: you all need to quit drinking so much.

I know, I know. It’s a college student’s favorite pastime. What else are we all supposed to do to relieve midterm stress? But my seemingly outrageous comment comes in response to a proposal made in the Oct. 11 Champaign City Council meeting aimed at curbing the amount of underage drinking done nightly in Campustown. Had that proposal been made into law, an establishment that serves alcohol would receive a ticket if police officers raided it and ended up issuing tickets for underage drinking for at least ten percent of the capacity of the bar. Currently, establishments only receive violations if they are actually caught in the act of serving liquor to minors.

Sadly, the proposal was struck down 7-0. But such a change in law is already long overdue. The lack of strong liquor codes has made the law-enforcement drinking game on campus a rivalry between the bars and police, where the objective has been to make the most money possible from underage drinkers. Bars benefit when you buy drinks, cops benefit when they bust you, and the only one ending up poor and sober is you. Laws aimed at curbing underage drinking from the source would have been a positive step to actually slowing the consumption of liquor on campus.

In all honesty, there’s really nothing wrong with a 19-year-old having a couple drinks. Alcoholism is statistically a problem for people who begin drinking in their early teens, but rates of alcoholism developing in people who begin drinking around 18 or 19 are considerably lower. In light of this, you might wonder why I’m in support of curbing our collective consumption. But it’s simple, really.

Everyday while walking to class I am in danger of stepping in somebody else’s puke. And it’s not just the streets, but also the sidewalks, the bushes, the buses and the bathrooms. It’s disgusting. Moreover, it’s embarrassing. We may have lost our status as being one of the biggest party schools in the country, but it’s really obvious we haven’t sobered up any. This is a campus that starts its weekends Thursday nights and celebrates St. Patrick’s Day between two and four times a year. This student body has a drinking problem, and the move by the city council is one that ignores the well-being of the student population in favor of profit.

Had the city really wanted to stem the binging, the council would have passed the proposal. Bars would be forced to toss out underage drinkers, and while both the establishments and the city would stand to lose some revenue, the city would benefit from cleaner streets and the University would benefit by continuing to lose the party school image.

Moreover, students and their grade point averages stand to gain the most. It has always been astounding to me that so many students can drink with such frequency and still manage to stay afloat in school. Charts are regularly posted in residence halls showing the inverse proportion between GPAs and the number of drinks consumed in a week. And it is a basic fact of life that going out on a Thursday night and getting wasted will leave you poorly prepared and hung-over for Friday morning classes.

But even if Champaign isn’t going to take action, this collective student body can. I’m not proposing that we all join AA and swear off the Jack Daniel’s forever. But show some class when you’re out. Save the partying for the weekends, and if you’re going to get drunk, puke and then pick a fight with someone, don’t do it in front of my house. I’m typically engaging in a college student’s second favorite pastime – sleeping.

Jenette Sturges is a junior in LAS. Her column appears every Tuesday. She can be reached at [email protected]