By Spencer Hupp
As an alumnus and University employee in recovery from drug and alcohol abuse, I would like to caution the Community Standards Committee against liability politicking, that is, winnowing the scope of social activities on the Mountain. Those keenest on mitigating the University’s drinking culture through subtraction, i.e., pushing it underground, will do more harm than they intend (but likely mean better than I can say).
We drunks do our finest (read: worst) work when the bottle, (rather, solo cup, errant can of Coors) becomes something to hide rather than something to overcome. Recent institutional policy is therefore troubling at best, and dangerously condescending at worst, especially to those for whom the difference between sobriety and its alternatives can mean life or death.
I’m a Greek alumnus, and, admittedly, the better part of my undergraduate experience was spent chain smoking at a fraternity house. I don’t blame my alcoholism on Sewanee, but the school’s peculiarities—its isolation—did spur some of my more maladaptive drinking.
So I applaud the present administration for taking initiative, however wrong-headed I think certain policies may be. But there are troubling reports from undergraduates about the disintegration of medical amnesty, the penalization of students for something as simple as public, not reckless, display and the threat of MIP’s, charges that seem more at home in Tuscaloosa, Fayetteville, or Baton Rouge than on the Domain.
Oversight can’t curtail binge drinking, as binge drinking is a fixture of dorm life; one can’t overstate the ethical dilemma of room-searches and policing in private spaces. Conversation and, indeed, responsible access can curtail binge drinking. I’d defer to that logic. As Dean Hagi Bradley used to advise, beer in a can is the better bet.
In EQB, and malice toward none,
Spencer Hupp, class of 2017
Assistant Editor, The Sewanee Review