Column: Smart move

By Brian Mellen

Everyone knows beer makes you smarter. According to the Buffalo Theory from the TV show “Cheers”, your brain can only work as fast as its most sluggish brain cells. Alcohol does you a favor by killing some of your brain cells attacking the slowest and weakest brain cells first. Thus, the strongest cells survive which makes for a more proficient brain. This is why you always feel smarter after a few beers.

Okay, maybe the theory’s not exactly the most scientific but it holds some truth. People do think they’re smarter when they’re drinking. How many times have you thought you had an awesome idea after a night of drinking? Raise your hand. News flash: anyone around you who was sober who heard your idea probably thought you were an idiot and either going to kill someone, cause injury or break something. The most common of the three at the University is damage or some kind of vandalism.

For whatever reasons, college students seem to get their best ideas when drinking. Punch a hole through your apartment wall. That’ll show that wall who’s boss. Or, that car in the parking garage has two rear view mirrors. It doesn’t need two rear view mirrors, so better steal the passenger side mirror and save the owner the extra trouble of having to remove it themselves. And lastly, my favorite, launching bottle rockets into your place of residency from the outside balcony. Nothing could possibly go wrong there.

While I normally would refrain from talking about drinking and partying in one of my columns to avoid becoming The Booze News (not to underscore their journalistic accomplishments) I’d like to take a timeout and make an exception this one instance. Party-related vandalism or destructive behavior is a problem on university campuses now and has been in the past. The problem ranges on a small scale from a random broken car window to large scale events like past riots at SIU and Ohio State. Unfortunately, the large scale destruction is not limited to those two schools, but instead universities across the country. Although U of I hasn’t experienced any recent alcohol-related vandalism on a grand scale, Champaign-Urbana still gets pretty rowdy on Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day. There were 60 reported arrests just last year on Unofficial and many most likely related to destructive behavior. Alcohol didn’t necessarily cause each problem; everyone makes their own decisions, but it definitely didn’t help the situation. It’s fuel to the fire.

Now, I’m not proposing people give up drinking. It’s not a realistic expectation and as a legal 21-year-old I wouldn’t want to give it up either. Quite honestly, if Prohibition in the 1920s taught us anything, it’s that suggesting people give up alcohol would have the opposite effect. And advising people to drink less heavily so that the first thing that comes to mind isn’t jousting with a couple two-by-fours in the apartment hallway won’t have much of an effect either. Binge drinking will always exist on college campuses.

My suggestion is the following, and it relates to all alcohol-related mistakes. If you end up doing something stupid while inebriated, don’t just shrug it off. There are far too many students on campus who use the excuse, “Well, I was drunk,” to try and get out of trouble. That’s true, but you also put yourself in that state of mind to do something stupid. Therefore, you’re still responsible for your actions. If you told one of your professors that you missed the midterm because you were partying he wouldn’t say, “I totally understand. When’s the best possible time for you to make it up?”

Putting yourself in a position where your state of mind is altered doesn’t excuse you from taking responsibility for your actions. Drink responsibly and whenever possible, fix whatever it is you broke or screwed up.

Brian Mellen is a junior in Communications. His column appears on Fridays. He can be reached at [email protected]