This school year don’t glorify, encourage blackout culture
As UC Davis begins another school year, new and returning students will be thrown into the typical college social scene, one that is inextricably linked to frequent partying and blackout drinking. This is common for nearly every institution of higher learning across the country. The American college experience is practically defined by its riotous fraternity parties, drunken shenanigans and drug-laden escapades, which have been perpetuated and glorified by prominent American films and popular social media pages like Total Frat Move and 5thyear.
This, of course, shouldn’t be news to anyone –– the exaltation of college blackout culture has been relevant for decades, long before any current UC Davis undergraduates were born. There’s nothing inherently wrong with a good time, especially as students on college campuses reach legal drinking age and need a release from the pressures of pursuing an education. But what often gets lost in the romanticization of partying is the unsettling fact that heavy drinking and drug use have severe negative consequences that extend beyond a bad hangover.
A 2015 report published by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found a correlation between frequent and excessive alcohol use and 97,000 incidents of sexual assault and found that approximately one in every five college students suffer from an alcohol use disorder. Further studies indicate that 50 percent of college students who drink have experienced a blackout.
This pattern of risk doesn’t stop at alcohol either. The abuse of prescription opioids on college campuses increased 343 percent between 1993 and 2005. The U.S. as a whole faces a severe opioid overdose epidemic and the stakes could not be higher.
Despite the clear dangers that uncontrolled drinking and drug use present, college students continue to engage in this behavior. For some, blacking out and popping pills are viewed as a way to boost one’s social status, while those same activities are used by others to cope with the stress of being a college student. The “functioning” addict or alcoholic is celebrated as students find that they are able to drink heavily and take drugs more often without it visibly affecting their academic performance.
This Editorial Board does not intend to preach the virtues of abstaining from alcohol or discourage UC Davis students from going forth and partying. Celebrate birthdays and hard-fought achievements. Enjoy college. A good night out with a few drinks can be incredibly fun for any college student.
At the same time, students must do their part to avoid participating in and perpetuating the insidious blackout facet of college culture. Alcohol poisoning and drug overdose are real risks that are destructive to both those who use and to the people around them. As Aggies, we have a responsibility to look out for one another and to party responsibly. Don’t be afraid to check in with your friends –– it shouldn’t be controversial to support the welfare of those you care about. Take advantage of Aggies Act, a recently-adopted campus protocol that allows students to contact emergency services in order to save the lives of others without facing legal trouble for first-time offenders of underage drinking or drug possession. We as a community can do better. There’s no excuse not to.
Written by: The Editorial Board