Queen’s students need to take responsibility for our drinking culture

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The university administration has made every effort to educate Queen’s students on the adverse effects of our drinking culture. Now, it’s our turn to make a change.
 
In the past few years, the University has made an admirable effort to counteract the prevalence of alcohol consumption and partying among its students. From maintaining the Campus Observation Room (COR) to papering residence buildings with endless information, our administration is running out of ways to convince students excessive drinking has a negative impact.
 
Yet all the same, Queen’s is ranked third in “hours partying” by Maclean’s magazine. 
 
This reputation validates an ongoing stereotype that everyone at Queen’s consumes alcohol frequently and excessively.
 
The responsibility for reforming the drinking culture  lies in the hands of the students. This isn’t to say Homecoming should be spent sober—unless it’s your preference—but it means students need to be more mindful of their impact on others. 
 
Don’t pressure your friend to do another shot if they’re already stumbling. Don’t host your campus club’s end-of-year party at a bar. Don’t set up your beer pong table in the street on a quiet Monday night.
 
A 2016 Student Health Survey at Queen’s found that 88.8 per cent of Queen’s students who replied had consumed an alcoholic beverage in their lifetime. However, respondents also cumulatively guessed 98.2 per cent of the Queen’s population had drank before. 
 
The perception here is that everyone at Queen’s drinks.
 
I know first-hand the effects of this. Starting in high school, every attempt to drink alcohol, even one cooler or beer, resulted in a night of sleeplessness and vomiting. 
 
I persisted in trying to drink at social events for two more years after coming to Queen’s, despite my stomach’s obvious aversion to alcohol. I didn’t want to be at one of Canada’s top party schools without being able to participate. 
 
The 2016 survey’s results mean about one in 10 students, not including those who previously drank but no longer choose to, may consider themselves excluded from the overall Queen’s culture. 
 
As a non-drinker, I belong to this group—I feel disconnected from my peers every time the weekend rolls around. It’s hard to suggest to your friends to spend their Friday nights at the movies, an escape room, or any other alcohol-free space without worrying you’re a buzzkill.
 
If students want to take the first step toward reversing Queen’s drinking culture, they should look to their own actions. Challenging friends to drink when they don’t expect it or posting Instagrams of beer funnelling can cause more harm than expected.
 
The University can host endless awareness campaigns and keep the COR open every weekend, but it’ll mean nothing if students aren’t listening.
 
Tegwyn is one of The Journal’s Copy Editors. She’s a third-year history major.
 

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