AHMED: ADAPTing to college life

The most important part of ADAPT’s mission is debunking inaccurate social norms

I am someone who firmly believes college is a time for transformation. There is simply nothing like it. Students emerge from universities a brighter, more keen and more mature version of themselves. Hopefully.

Along the way, there are several obstacles that could threaten one’s success: homesickness, mental health issues or lost love. Personally, I think one the biggest threats to success in college is a misunderstanding of alcohol and drug safety.

Every first-year student comes in with different levels of knowledge on alcohol — whether it stem from drinking or not drinking in high school, family members or the media. A personal favorite of mine is the “I Love College” music video, one that presents a college party unlike any I’ve ever been to. But if parties like that really exist, do tell! Furthermore, incoming students arrive with tolerance, trigger levels and body compositions that are drastically different from one another.

For these reasons as well as a familial connection to alcoholism, I decided to join the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Team, or ADAPT. ADAPT’s mission is to address the issues of alcohol and other drug abuse in the University community. The key word there is abuse. Somewhere along the line some students saw ADAPT as an abstinence group, one that was grabbing solo cups out of people’s hands and replacing them with lemonade. That mission, albeit amusing, is simply unproductive in a university setting.

Even on dry campuses nationwide, the reality is college students drink. Our goal is to create an understanding of drinking and debunk the myths we commonly hear. The most worthy part of ADAPT’s mission, in my eyes, is one of social norms. We have the ability to present our peers with data and show them how the majority of the people around them are behaving. We present names to show most of the fourth-year class does not partake in the Fourth-Year Fifth, and over 800 students a year arrive at Foxfield sober and plan to stay sober. Students cannot be held accountable for knowing these norms, so we present it to them in a way that is interactive and compelling.

Naturally, the human mind goes to what seems extreme, or out of the ordinary. Most students will not talk about the majority of people at a party, who are consuming 0 – 2 drinks and having a great time. Instead, it is more exciting to recall the one or two people who were way over the top and belligerent. The anomalies, and “one of these things are not like the other” catches our eye. I see this time and time again when I ask University students how many drinks they think the typical student has on a weekend night, and they reply with six or seven. Yet, when I ask the same student “how many drinks do you have on a typical weekend night?” the answer is usually two or three.

Alcohol education is something I will continue fighting for because I think it has great merit in our university system. At a time when we are coming to terms with adulthood, realizing our talents and honing them in, and meeting people we will forever call friends. Drinking can serve as a great socializing device that creates lasting memories, or an evil that leaves us with regret and medical and lawful misfortune. Each time someone remembers to eat breakfast the morning of Foxfield or alternates alcohol with water the night of Halloween, I sleep a little better at night.

After all, it certainly can be alcoholism if you have yet to leave college.

Hawa Ahmed is a third-year in the College and the co-Chair of ADAPT.

Published April 23, 2014 in Opinion

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