For Halloween, I was a Cal track and field champion — not because I went out that night clad in blue and gold short shorts, wristbands and running shoes but because for one night, I had to nearly break the Cal long jump record — on several occasions — just to dodge the undigested, noodle-filled vomit that lay across the middle of my Unit 3 hallway. Let’s get this straight before we go any further: By no means am I against the consumption of alcohol, but once I’m forced to resort to physically impossible means just to make my 4 a.m. bathroom trip, I start to get a little concerned. It’s easy to say that we should draw the line when we start to put ourselves or our community at risk, but this line is pretty hard to walk while inebriated — literally. So what’s there to do? Should we just give our neighbors free reign to ruin our living spaces? Probably not. What we need to do is learn how to draw the line and actually see it. If you’re the drinker, learn from your experiences and stick to a plan. If you’re a bystander or friend, don’t be afraid to give feedback, advice or suggestions.
Whatever you do, do not be an enabler. Let it be known that you want change. Directly encouraging students to engage in safer, more risk-free drinking from a physical health standpoint — pacing yourself, limiting yourself, alternating between alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks — is very “hit-or-miss.” But I do think it’s possible to achieve this from a social standpoint. Think about the naked walk from the fire escape, which you thought was your room, to your actual room the next morning. Think about being forced by the custodial staff to clean up your own puke on all fours while your neighbors are leap-frogging you just to get to the elevator.
These highly profound thoughts and realizations might be difficult to comprehend with a high blood-alcohol content, but then again, if you do decide to drink, you should try to think about these things ahead of time. Odds are if you’re bothering people around you with your drunkenness or impairing their ability to carry out simple activities, you’ve probably had too much to drink. So let me be completely honest with you: When you vomit in my living space, I am very bothered, and I want you to clean up the mess and make the proper adjustments so it doesn’t happen again. So it all goes back to common sense and awareness.
Get to know your living community and your neighbors, and familiarize yourself with rules, laws and repercussions of alcohol-related activities so you can mitigate some negative effects and maybe convince yourself to put down that last shot. More importantly, learn about the on-campus resources that are available to you, like health and wellness coaching and counseling services at the Tang Center.
If at this point you’re saying, “Pft, I can handle my liquor,” then keep it up! But if not, it might be time to re-evaluate your drinking habits. Because if you live in the residence halls, then believe me, you don’t want to be on the receiving end of incessant glares and threats to be reported to an RA. And if you live in off-campus housing, I’m not even sure how far disgruntled roommates or neighbors would go. They probably draw the line at having to long jump over their trashed driveway to get to their Honda Civic. Seriously, some people just aren’t that athletic. Be considerate, please.
Shahnin Firouzbakht is a member of the residence hall health worker program directed by the Tang Center.
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