This Happens in College?

Monica Dore, Staff Writer

The day before I left for college, my older brother talked to me about all of his college experiences during his four-year undergraduate career. He warned me about frat houses, told me to have fun and be safe, and then jokingly quoted Chef from “South Park,” saying “There’s a time and place for everything- and it’s called college.”

It’s a common expectation that kids in college will drink. And it’s a common expectation that they will do so recklessly and without concern for their actions. After being here for only a month, I can see where this mind-set comes from. I’ve already heard horror stories about people being rushed off to the hospital for alcohol poisoning and I’ve spoken to people who feel embarrassed about things they can’t even remember doing. But on the other hand, I’ve met people who don’t drink at all, and I’ve also met people who drink, but who do so responsibly.

Before coming to school, SUNY Oneonta had all its incoming freshman take an online course, AlcoholEdu, which was meant to prepare us for college culture. We answered questions to show how much we knew about drinking, and completed surveys to share our opinions and personal history of drinking and drugs. Most people that I’ve talked to hated the course, but truthfully, I didn’t mind it. I will say this, though: there are some things that AlcoholEdu just cannot prepare you for.

A friend of mine said that his views about drugs changed on the third day of this semester, when he walked into a room where guys were doing “whippets” (sniffing nitrous oxide from cans to experience a quick high.) He thought to himself, “Alright, then, I guess this is just college.”

I’ve heard this from a lot of the people I’ve talked to. Most people didn’t think drugs and alcohol had such a presence in the college environment. The lack of parental supervision definitely gives students the opportunity to experience more of what is seen as normal college behavior. And yet, I’ve spoken to a few students who say that they went out much more when they were in high school and lived with their parents.

I come from a small town upstate where a lot of kids think that the only thing to do is drink. For a town that people call “quaint and innocent,” my town and school have a reputation for drug use and alcohol problems. Most of the people in my graduating class drank on a regular basis and often smoked pot. But before graduating, I heard of only a few instances where people used drugs that were considered to be more serious than marijuana. By the end of my first week in college, I was shocked to hear of someone from another dorm building who had tried cocaine. Just a rumor, maybe, but it freaked me out nonetheless. Since that first week, I haven’t heard anything that really surprised me — I guess my brother’s stories prepared me for the years ahead.

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