Published: Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 01:03
“You’re only an alcoholic once you graduate.”
This philosophy is accepted by most as an unspoken rule of college life. And while most of the time that attitude is voiced as a harmless joke after a heavy night (or several nights) of partying, it can foster an environment that understates a serious medical condition.
In a campus culture that promotes the dominant presence of alcohol at weekend events, it’s hard to determine whether a friend’s drinking habits are simply a reflection of a benign fixture of college life or if they pose a true health risk. Georgetown Health Education Services’ website provides a multitude of important resources on alcohol-related issues, including counselling services, information and referrals to community alcohol organizations. But for students unsure of whether their friends have a problem, the notion of using these resources — and having to disclose their friends’ identities and drag them into a formal university process — presents too high a risk of harming friendships. A user-friendly website designed to inform students on warning signs for abnormal college alcohol behavior, which could even come equipped with an anonymous questions forum that Georgetown health professionals could monitor and reply to, would help students seek out information in a less implicative process.
Campus services are well positioned to step in when problems get serious, and ideally educational services like AlcoholEdu serve as a foundation for responsible alcohol use. But in the wide swath of time between taking AlcoholEdu freshman year and the onset of a culture of alcohol later in college, it becomes unclear when individual — or even group — habits extend beyond a normal, relatively safe college experience. A joint effort from students and health professionals in the form of an interactive website, which both realistically tackles the college drinking experience and provides a scientific health risk evaluation, could provide an important source of information for uncertain students.
The Georgetown community is generally sensitive to the safety of others when engaging in alcohol-related activities. By providing this new resource, the university could allow students to be more sober-minded about the dangers of drinking.