Sewanee’s “War on Drugs”

Caroline Winslow     
Junior Editor

People have been known to be of the opinion that drinking is part of the culture at Sewanee. I am not going to sit here and say that drinking doesn’t happen, but I am also not going to sit idly by and watch the administration break the actual Sewanee culture whilst trying to “fix” this problem.

First and foremost, when I think of Sewanee, I think of a community. When I get back to campus, I feel like I am home. I don’t like the idea that my home is being torn apart in every which way, by the probation of Greek organizations, the plan to get rid of pub, and the addition of arbitrarily more strict rules and regulations, in order to achieve one impossible goal: stop intoxication on campus. It is the administration’s personal war on drugs. Whether or not a student is sober or intoxicated, traditions are what make Sewanee, but lately the administration has been attacking our traditions for their own want of power. What makes them think things are so bad here, are we not still well known for our academics and our community?

Being well known for our academics comes with stress; the classes are hard and rigorous. Therefore, I like to think that when I go out on weekends I can unwind with my friends and relax from a stressful week. However, due to the new rules of the administration I feel as though I will need to be looking over my shoulder on the weekends which will not make them feel stress-free. 

While I understand the want for less underage drinking, the school and the administration are going about it in the wrong ways. It started with the removal of Bacchus; the student led service that provided on-campus transportation to students late at night. Then, it moved to the creation of new and stricter alcohol and intoxication rules such as no glass bottles, no supplying alcohol (even to students of age), and threatening public intoxication with jail time. 

Bacchus ran from 9:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. on Thursdays and 9:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. It gave students a safe and nonjudgmental ride home from those late-night parties, or even from the library. It also provided community through meeting people who you don’t know, but who are going home at the same time. According to older students, there were songs about Bacchus that everyone sang and knew and that memories were always made on Bacchus. All that is gone now with the class of (C’23) being the last to experience the magical Bacchus. Originally it was removed with the excuse of Covid, but I believe that the administration felt that it was a support system for irresponsibly drunk students. This is an ignorant decision on the part of the administration. The students that are too drunk now do not have a way home that is safe; there will be more drinking and driving, more cases of sexual assault, and more students who just don’t make it home. Also, Bacchus was not only for drunk students, but students who live on the outermost parts of campus, such as in Gorgas or Trez; these students are not safe doing their 15-minute walk back alone and in the dark.

I personally would like to think that if I’m incapacitated and drunk that my friends would take care of me, but due to the new alcohol, drug, and intoxication rules I am not sure they would even know I needed help. The new rules are meant to make it harder for students to go out to parties and drink; that’s fine, but it will not change things for the better. If a student wants to be drunk, then they will get drunk in their own room with unlimited alcohol on hand. Does this seem better to you, Sewanee? I think this will come back to bite the administration. Students drinking unsupervised and possibly alone in their room will only worsen drinking and driving and create a situation where no one else knows how much that student has had to drink; not knowing how much someone has had to drink will make it significantly harder to know when and if someone needs help.  

Even in light of these more stringent rules, the administration felt the need to send a letter to the sororities and fraternities with more pinpointed rules and regulations. As a student who is not in Greek life, I see that these organizations are being addressed as if they are the issue when for the most part they are not. Like I emphasized before, IF A PERSON WANTS TO BE DRUNK THEN THEY ARE GOING TO BE DRUNK NO MATTER THE RULES. The new rules for Greek life state that all parties that allow alcohol must be BYOB or have a real bartender to sell drinks on a one drink basis. Also, if public intoxication is suspected by the police, you can get in very serious trouble. These rules will only make students sneaky and afraid of the police. The police are supposed to be there to keep the students safe, not to get the students in trouble, but the administration has turned the rules to be against the students and not in tandem with helping students succeed. 

At the end of the day we are all adults who are here making our own decisions. The administration’s new rules and regulations are just becoming a power play so that they can assert dominance over the students. I am in no way saying that students should not follow the laws and rules, but Sewanee is not a school where the administration can just force cultural changes; the students do and will fight back. In the long run, these changes pose a threat to Sewanee’s community and traditions, and they will not be tolerated by the students. The administration needs to focus on providing more services to help build and protect this community and its people; taking traditions away is not the answer.

One comment

  1. Extremely poor writing, cliche’ and immature. The level of professional writing from the Purple has been top notch these past few years but this person is a weak link in your staff. Even writing as opinion should have depth, be less whiny, and for heaven’s sake a bit mature by the junior year.

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