Vincent Moore / News Editor

Vincent Moore

News Editor

About one out of every five college students exhibit symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Learning that fact, coupled with the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health’s finding that 35 percent of college students binge drink, one might wonder what is it about the college drinking culture that takes young people and compels them to engage in self-destructive behavior.

Alcohol Use Disorder is defined by the NIAAA as “a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using.” The last two parts of that definition can respectively describe most Thursday evenings and Friday mornings for many Keene State College students.

The first time I ever heard of “Thirsty Thursday” was during my first semester at KSC, when the professor of my Friday ten a.m. course commented on how zombie-like and moody half the class was. From then on, I continued to learn the extent of control that alcohol had on so many students on this campus.

Some argue that college drinking culture is over exaggerated or a misconception perpetuated by the media. One only has to walk around the streets adjacent to campus on any given Thursday night before the first snowfall to see hordes of KSC students roaming the sidewalks from party to party, stumbling and shouting more and more as the evening grows later, proving that the exaggeration isn’t so blown out of proportion. Even as both the leaves and temperature begin to drop, one can still see students wandering in search of parties, some of them still dressed in the shorts, t-shirts and skirts they wore when it was still summer — which is problematic in and of itself, since alcohol only makes one feel warmer, putting students at risk of hypothermia.

Along with hypothermia, spending hours retching over a toilet, crashing face first into brick walls while longboarding and getting busted by Campus Safety are just some of the very real consequences that students face whenever they “go out”, a euphemism many use for getting wasted. Subtler consequences of drinking culture include weight gain, poor academic performance and the slow poisoning the body. Since all first-year students are required to complete the Alcohol Wise program and should at least understand the dangers of drinking alcohol in excess, one is left to wonder why college drinking culture is the way it is, and why students continue to take part in it.

Those who choose to defend college drinking culture might reply that it’s the way how college students socialize and alcohol is required to “break the ice.” Like most effective lies, there is some truth to that statement; people have enjoyed social drinking as far back as Biblical times. In many European cultures it’s tradition to have wine with dinner or with guests, and it’s even custom in some fields to take colleagues or customers out for drinks when discussing business. Social drinking implies that some sort of intelligent socialization is going on that takes precedence over the drinking; college drinking culture fosters the opposite. Dancing on tables, drinking liquor straight from a bottle, slipping Xanax into a friend’s drink for fun and other drunken antics are enough to convince most parents into sending their children to trade school. Also, if alcohol is an icebreaker, why do these students feel the need to use alcohol as a social lubricant sometimes five days in a row, from Wasted Wednesday to Sloshed Sunday?

College drinking culture doesn’t view alcohol as a means to an end, it views it as an end itself, an end that students believe will relieve stress. Exams, homework, student loan debt, relationships and deadlines are some of the stressors that students find difficult to cope with in college. Western culture has been so infected by consumerism that instead of dealing with their problems in a constructive, introspective way, some college students would rather look for a solution in a bottle. They see drinking as a convenient liquid that wipes worries and makes things (i.e. the consumer) more fun.

Were the prohibitionists right all along? Should alcohol be banned entirely like methamphetamine and cocaine? The failure of the 18th Amendment and of the ongoing failed War on Drugs should answer that question. Prohibition will always end in disaster.

One can argue that by having the age to purchase alcohol higher than most of the Western world, America contributes to the problem — because whenever a young person is told not to do something, they’re going to want to do it even more. Contrast this with Quebec, a Canadian province with the minimum age to purchase alcohol at 18. According to, Quebec is experiencing a decline in alcohol related problems despite 83% of its population above the age of 15 regularly drinking alcohol, and only has nine percent of youth aged between 15 and 24 displaying alcohol dependence or abuse issues.

The government can’t solve the college drinking problem, only college students can do that. Those who believe that college is going to be the peak years of their life can rest assured that they can make the best out of any year in their life through persistence and hard work.

Every student has the potential inside them, all they have to do is find the courage to put down the bottle and start living in the real world. Is it not too late for those under the sway of college drinking to put a stop on their self-destructive behavior, or will the parents continue dumping their children off at college only to have one third of them turned into binge drinkers and drunkards, like how the ancient Canaanites sacrificed their children to the fires of Moloch?

Vincent Moore can be contacted at

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