By Alex Vidiani
We live on a campus full of strong emotions and opinions on every aspect of life (glory be to freedom of speech). However, this does result in social discords fairly often, as well as creating further divides between many, friend or not. One of these disagreements is the conflict between drinkers and non-drinkers on campus, specifically those who judge others for not adhering to their personal beliefs.
On one side we have some drinkers who expound the virtues of the 21st amendment and sing praises of collegiate freedom through drinking and parties. On the other hand, there are those who might very well prefer the 18th and condemn alcohol as a dangerous, albeit legal, drug which should be kept away from such an academic setting. The question I would like to pose upon you is who are we to judge others based on what we drink, or do not drink? Like the controversy surrounding these two amendments, the drama we go through takes far too much effort and creates more problems than we originally had.
Unlike dry campuses, Washington students are fortunate enough to keep their rights to alcohol. This is a privilege, and something which should not be handled lightly. Though there are many who abuse alcohol and act out in public or private (the weekends after winter and spring break immediately come to mind), there are even more who drink responsibly. This goes beyond just “normal” drinking habits, as there are individuals who day-drink, drink on weekdays and nights, etc. but who are still highly functioning and maintain both good grades and appearance. Some non-drinkers would regard this as alcoholism and would vilify the individual as an alcoholic destined to slide down that inevitable slippery-slope. That is a fallacy, of course.
The inverse is also true, to some extent, in which non-drinkers are abused by drinkers. For choosing not to drink alcohol, these individuals are treated as uptight, prudish, and incapable of letting loose or having a good time and if they ever do, it is sure to end in an overdose or public urination charge. Again, this is not true. There are individuals who are uptight about alcohol, but they do have their reasons, such as a history of alcoholism in the family, etc. There are also those who abstain from alcohol for their own private reasons and respect those who choose to drink, and even take care of these drinkers if they ever need help or medical assistance. The main thing to note here is that the drinking spectrum has two extremes, and there are many people at Washington who fall in the middle where safety and respect are paramount.
In order to erase these feelings of animosity and bafflement aimed at each side, we must first understand that opinions are not facts, and it is possible to be right and wrong simultaneously. Binge-drinking and other forms of dangerous alcohol consumption can lead to more than just ill-health for the individual (other effects include damaged GPAs, lost jobs, and so on). Being entirely too close-minded can lead to a miserable college career, lost opportunities, and burned bridges for previously friendly acquaintances, business contacts—I can go on (but won’t).
The middle ground is the best ground in this instance, as it affords high levels of safety, respect, and overall positivity towards the alcoholic and non-alcoholic worlds. Ultimately, it is up to the individual whether or not they drink, and all we can do is respect that decision and try to understand why they have made it. Drinking isn’t an evil deed, and neither is abstaining. So the next time someone picks up a drink in whatever setting, or doesn’t, remember their life is different than yours and subsequently, so are their actions. In the end, let us all drink and be merry. Or not, but let’s stay merry all the same.