Consider the following account, written by a staff member in Dining Services, which appeared in one of the incident reports that Public Safety filed this weekend:
Saturday night in Ross dining hall I witnessed several intoxicated students. I saw one student taking a whole bottle of half and half and asked him why he was taking a whole bottle and he rudely told me that it was for making drinks and walked away from me. Three students started wrestling in the middle of the floor right after we had opened and I had to ask them to break it up. One student fell out of his chair while eating. Another approached me at the pizza station and told me that he was too drunk to eat and that the pizza he was getting was for another student that was too drunk to get his own food. We had several broken dishes due to students dropping them throughout the night. At about 5:45 there were two tables of intoxicated students throwing food across the dining hall; when I approached them they denied throwing any food although I saw them do it. At about 6:30 a student entered the dining hall with his pockets full, so I watched where he sat down and a few minutes later had to ask him and his friends to leave the dining hall because they were shot gunning beers at their table. By the end of the night we had collected about 12-15 beer cans from the dining hall and off of the tray return area as well as an empty fifth of vodka. At the end of the night the dining hall was a disaster. There was food all over the place, dirty dishes, broken dishes and empty beer cans everywhere. Overall the students were very loud and disrespectful and many of them smelled very strongly of alcohol.
I’ve argued on this blog that our campus suffers when responsible drinking disappears from civic spaces (see What’s In A Beer). But something worse happens when alcohol generates the kind of conduct described here: we lose our capacity to imagine a better, more fulfilling social life.
By the way, it’s worth noting that Ross dining hall is a licensed facility—like a bar or restaurant—which means that these students violated Vermont law (as well as College policy) by bringing alcohol into the space. Ironically, the College acquired a liquor license for the dining hall so that alcohol could be more easily (and responsibly) served at Ross social events.
Saturday night’s episode is outrageous in several ways. Have these students no regard for anyone but themselves? How could Middlebury students be so disrespectful of staff? And the obvious question: what does this example of collective intoxication tell us about drinking habits on this campus?
When considered alongside other examples of excessive drinking, this incident suggests that it’s time for our community to have a sustained conversation about the use and abuse of alcohol. I would like to know from readers what might the best way to approach this discussion. How can we make a difference?