CAMPUSPEAK’s Lori Hart ended her talk, “A Few Too Many: Our Campus Culture of Alcohol,” with one crucial piece of advice: “Use [your bowels] as any excuse to get out of an uncomfortable drug-related situation.”
“Let’s be real,” Hart said, “No one has ever looked at a friend and said, ‘Stay, we’ll clean up your [expletive].’”
Students filled Elon University’s Whitley Auditorium Sept. 10 as Hart took a humorous approach to alcohol choices. She encouraged students to “begin with the end in mind” and picture their future 10 years from now. The audience shared their future aspirations of world travel, financial stability, romantic relationships and dog ownership.
“If you are a person in this room that drinks alcohol and does drugs, I want you to think about what you clapped for and how these drugs affect that goal,” Hart said.
Nothing Hart said was new. She summarized the five factors that affect blood alcohol content: quantity of alcohol, rate of consumption, weight, the amount of time taken to drink the alcohol and the gender of the consumer. She went on to explain a 1993 Harvard study that produced the term “binge drinking” — the consumption of five or more drinks in one sitting.
“For such an overdone topic, she made it unique,” said senior Evan Skloot, president of the Eta-Sigma Chapter of Zeta Beta Tau at Elon.
Skloot said he was particularly impressed with Hart’s ability to connect to both men and women.
Elon was recently named the fourth safest college town in the United States, according to Safe Wise. But the consequences of binge drinking and overconsumption are still apparent.
“Alcohol-related crimes are the top [at Elon],” said Mike Brewer, patrol lieutenant in the Town of Elon’s Police Department. “Assaults and damage to property usually occur from people who have been drinking alcohol.”
Senior Felicia Cenca, president of the Epsilon-Chi chapter of Alpha Omicron Pi at Elon brought Hart to the campus to have a realistic conversation about alcohol.
“The risks that come with alcohol use are hard to talk about for many of us as students, but openly addressing it seemed to be like one step in the right direction,” Cenca said.
Hart addressed these risks with students by asking them to list some. The first yelled: “Death.” The room erupted in laughter. The next comment: “Sometimes, I feel alienated because I don’t drink.”
No one laughed.
Senior Conor Janda — part of the 20 percent of college students who abstains from drinking, according to the American College Health Association’s National College Health Assessment from spring 2014 — agreed that it can be difficult to be social and refrain from drinking.
“I do not think that people explicitly or purposefully alienate those who don’t drink, but drinking is so pervasive in Elon’s culture that staying sober requires a certain level of isolation,” Janda said.
“We all clap to the same tune … We’re all looking to build a life that we want,” Hart said. At this event, the consumers, the abstainers, the sorority sisters, the fraternity brothers — the Elon students — clapped together.