The state of student drinking
For many students who are living away from home for the first time, providing for themselves and having free reign away from their parents, drinking can become a twisted part of that freedom. Drinking to the extreme results in losing that newfound independence. People go back to behaving like children, often making them vulnerable, as alcohol affects their judgement.
Oxford seems to have avoided some of the massive drinking issues that cities such as Newcastle have. These issues have been evaded partly because the majority of clubs and pubs are situated in the city centre, away from residential areas, meaning if there is a problem it can be easily contained. It has been working, as the last major incident involving student drinking at Brookes was in 2008, when a rugby social got out of hand.
However, there are factors such as drink prices that definitely encourage and persuade students to go out. Even when there is that assignment to complete with a fast approaching deadline, 80p drinks at Gossip @ Lava on a Monday night is hard to resist. It’s so ridiculously cheap, that being drunk has become the norm for a night out. Some have even managed to claim fame through clubbing, like blogger Clubber Steve (If you don’t know who he is: http://clubbersteve.wordpress.com/). Some have become infamous and been barred from clubs (you know who you are!), showing it is important to remember that there will probably be consequences for drunken actions.
Drinking and going out introduces a whole new world to many students, many of them trying to lead double lives: gods and goddesses by night and high-achieving students during the day, hoping to bag that 2:1. But getting the balance right is not always easy, especially if you have persuasive housemates who suggest a ‘cheeky one’ at the local, which may quickly snowball into a heavy night of binge drinking and finishing the night in A&E. Although to add a silver lining, Nursing, Midwifery and Healthcare students drink the least amount of alcohol units a week, so you’re in good sober hands if you take a trip to the hospital! Whereas Accounting and Finance students are currently top alcohol consumers at 30.6 units a week! (Students and Alcohol Survey 2012)
Yes this all seems a bit extreme, after all one drink may sometimes just be one drink, but that is the problem with alcohol: exaggeration. It can turn the tweedy, clingy, guy with an eyebrow twitch and a fascination for Guild Wars into a tall, chiselled, athletic champion who will rock your world– oh, who hasn’t had a case of beer goggles?! One of my friends recently got into a fight with another girl over her choice of sauce on her chips at the chip van (it was BBQ and mayo), highlighting the exaggerated effect alcohol produces. Sober the choice of sauce wouldn’t have been an issue. Sensible judgement can quickly escape you after a few drinks, and it seems to be affecting students across the UK, but is it deeper than that, possibly a cultural problem? Going to the pub after work for drinks is common practice and everyone has heard of those crazy Christmas office parties, where bodily parts are photocopied. The question is: can we break out of this drunken cycle and stop at being ‘merry’, or do we have to be ‘immortal’ to have a good time now?
Thanks to Anna Shannon (Observer – Oxford Brookes’ independent student newspaper) for this article.