BSG brings alcohol abuse to the forefront of campus climate

Elizabeth Worthington, Reed Widdoes, Staff Writers

On Nov. 2, members of the University community gathered together to discuss the important and controversial topic of alcohol abuse. The entirely student-organized event, sponsored by Bucknell Student Government (BSG) and co-sponsored by the Interfraternity Council and the Panhellenic Council, was titled “One Too Many: What Will It Take?”

The event was heavily advertised and attendance was strongly encouraged by many student organizations. Together, the collaborators hoped to shed light on the destructive effects that the reckless consumption of alcohol has on the University campus and the Lewisburg community.

BSG President Alex Rosen ’16 began the discussion by presenting the blood alcohol concentrations of each of the 53 students hospitalized this year. Rosen was joined by students dressed in black who dropped white carnations to symbolize the mourning of the University students that could have been lost this year, demonstrating how personal this issue is to everyone on campus.

Rosen coupled this with the results of a survey BSG had conducted with students. With over 400 respondents, the survey reported that 83.8 percent of students know someone who has been hospitalized for overconsumption. She reported that 75.4 percent want the drinking culture to change, but 43.2 percent do not believe it’s possible for the culture to change.

After presenting the data to the audience, Rosen asked, “Has our luck run out?” She then turned the microphone over to several student speakers representing a wide array of roles and opinions at the University. These students shared personal narratives and encouraged students to take responsibility for their own actions while also holding their peers accountable.

Panhellenic Council President Issey Blatt ’16 and Interfraternity Council Vice President Internal Miles Silva ’16 stressed the values of students’ Greek organizations and how they can be applied to the problem of alcohol abuse.

Blatt encouraged members of the sororities and fraternities on campus to ask themselves, “Are we living those values every day?”

Other speakers focused on encouraging students to initiate the change. Kortney Marshall ’16 spoke from experience of four years’ exposure to the campus drinking culture. Noting that we need to stop blaming Greek organizations for the problem, Marshall instead emphasized taking responsibility for ourselves.

“It is our responsibility, not just as Bucknellians but as contributing members to society as a whole, to change our culture,” Marshall said.

Residential Adviser Jackson Pierce-Felker ’18 also hoped to enable students to make a difference.

“It’s in our hands. You need to be the change you wish to see … At this point it’s on us. Nobody can fix it but us,” Pierce-Felker said.

Liam Moore ’18 expressed similar concerns, asking the question, “Why do we keep tempting fate?” Moore spoke candidly about his own experience with alcohol overconsumption and represented the sole voice to the audience as one of the 53.

After the panel had a chance to shed light on the issue, the discussion was opened to the audience in an informal Q&A session. Questions touched on topics that ranged from the University’s high ranking on lists of top party schools and its effect on reputation and the expectations of prospective students, to the culture’s detrimental impact on the surrounding Lewisburg community.

Questions also addressed the potential radical steps that may need to be taken if change does not come.

“I hope that we continue to brainstorm answers … True change in our campus culture will only come about through a collective effort,” Rosen said.

The event brought in a packed house, with almost every seat in the Weis Center full.

“We were extremely proud to look out into the audience and see that over 1,000 concerned members of the student body completely filled the Weis Center. This type of student engagement was what we had optimistically hoped for, and to see students from all realms of Bucknell life exceeded all expectations,” Rosen said.

After the event, student responses were mixed.

“I was touched and moved by the concern and inspired by the strong attendance,” Lucy Fishell ’18 said.

Others were left wanting for more of a definitive solution.

“The crux of the issue was avoided and the easiest, but also the most extreme solutions were presented. These solutions are not realistic for all students on campus and the drinking culture is only going to change if we are realistic and make compromises,” Taylor Wald ’18 and Maddie Picher ’18 said.

BSG was happy to raise awareness of the issue as well as encourage student responsibility.

At the conclusion of the event, BSG offered this takeaway for their fellow University students: “We hope that students will think twice after this event. We hope that they will think twice in regards to how fast they drink, what they drink, and with whom they drink. We are sincerely concerned about safety, and we hope that our friends, peers, teammates, brothers, and sisters will all be more accountable for themselves and for each other. We all do not want to reach 54, and it will take a community and individual effort to follow through with that goal.”

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