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Defending the decision to drink

Caitlin Smith | Monday, February 23, 2004

I am writing in response to Ryan Iafigliola’s Feb. 20 column expressing his opinion that the wickedness of alcohol makes it difficult for non-drinkers to survive on this campus. I don’t know what kind of parties Ryan has attended, but the vast majority of parties I’ve been to on campus have been comprised of both people who drink and those who do not – those who go, instead, simply to socialize with others. I do not see this clear-cut divide of the student population, of those who drink and those who do not, as Ryan described. Ryan, I have read the Bible and Plato. One of the most well-known stories from the Bible is the Wedding at Cana, an event at which Jesus miraculously produced more wine for the wedding guests when it had been depleted due to a lack of supply. If Jesus was associated with wine, why can’t we be? We do attend a Catholic university, where wine is offered daily at Mass. Truly this is not regarded as being evil, but rather a pivotal part of communion with God. The ancient Greeks, such as Plato, were wine connoisseurs as well. They not only viewed wine as a form of ambrosia, but also maintained that being drunk elevated them to the status of the gods. Any CORE student can attest to this, having read “The Bacchae” by Euripides V. Furthermore, drinking played a pivotal role in decision-making in ancient Greece. It was the custom for groups to converse, debate and reach a decision while drunk. While sober, they would do the same. If the decision was the same in both instances, it was deemed wise and carried out. Additionally, Plato certainly did not condemn inebriation. One of his dialogues on Socrates, “The Symposium,” is set at a dinner party flowing with wine, where the attendees, comprised of the great Greek poets, playwrights and philosophers, eloquently praise the virtues of love and the “sweet nectar” we call wine.One of the flaws of Ryan’s column is that he over-generalized the characteristics he attributes to drunken people. Many of them belong not to inebriated individuals, but to alcoholics. The drinkers I know do not drink because they dislike themselves, nor because they want to escape themselves.This school certainly does not encourage drinking. It has and enforces many alcoholic policies, such as the banning of hard alcohol in dorms. My question to Ryan is this: You claim that this school offers too few opportunities to non-drinkers, but what more could you possibly expect from our University? I look all around and see many events, especially on weekends, that this campus offers. Since it is obvious that we do not live in a college town, I feel that Notre Dame has done its best at providing many opportunities for students to partake in on campus, all of which are non-alcoholic. One can attend plays, musicals, SUB movies, concerts, Flipside events and other such activites without even leaving the confines of Notre Dame. Who really wants to go to the gym to work out at midnight on a Saturday night? Other places, such as Reckers and Legends, stay open much later to provide a place for students to socialize.As for the statistics that were quoted, of course there is going to be a larger number of non-drinkers in the freshman class compared to the overall student body, as many juniors and seniors are 21 or over. Furthermore, not all drinkers are binge drinkers who constantly drink to their edge; instead, most are fairly moderate. Drinkers do not think that non-drinkers have a social defect. Drinking should not define a person or his/her personality. Abstaining from drinking may be the path that some choose to follow for various reasons. This abstention certainly does not mean that one is morally superior than one who chooses to drink. It is merely a personal choice. Alcoholism, on the other hand, is a dangerous vice. Drinking moderately and socially does not make one lose one’s integrity or reflect bad character. Realize that we do not live in a puritanical society. Alcohol is not the devil, nor is it inherently evil. If you expect drinkers to respect your choice not to drink, then you should also respect their choices to drink. Caitlin SmithsophomoreFarley HallFeb. 20