Notre Dame students, no matter how many restrictions administration will place upon them, will always find ways around the rules. Even though Our Lady’s University is a Catholic institute, it is still an American college, with sex and alcohol, lots of alcohol. Most social gatherings that occur on campus, solely sponsored by students, are notorious ‘dorm parties.’ Many freshmen thrive on these events, while upperclassmen and those of age (or illegally ‘of age’) who do consume alcohol, attend the prestige that is Feve, CJ’s, Brother’s, The Backer, Corby’s, etc.
To prevent any potential mishaps, dorm parties must be registered. Rectors and RA’s are not unaware that a dorm party will have alcohol, often times purchased and/or consumed by underage individuals. “Just don’t let us catch you.”
Alcohol is a social tool, or as one interviewee in Smith’s chapter calls it, a social lubricant, which is very true. It is a lubricant and a seemingly ‘acceptable’ excuse. What better to do on a Friday night than get wasted, maybe meet a few people who are in classes of yours that you never talk to, but now all of a sudden you can because you’re drinking and if you happen to make a fool of yourself, you’ll be able to use the alcohol as an excuse, even though you’re more likely than not aware of what you may be doing.
There is a saying: sober thoughts from an inebriated mind. Maybe you wanted to talk to that girl or guy you thought was cute and did not have the ‘courage.’ I put courage in quotes because it is a false sense of courage, rather it is the ability to have an accessible excuse should the situation not go as planned.
Take any weekend at Notre Dame, starting with Thursday night (though it’s technically not the weekend, many students don’t have class Friday, or still choose to go out – Thursday is Fevesday). Main Circle is lined with cabs trying to get some cash from students ready to start their weekend with a nice night of drunken dancing, pictures, and maybe a potential hook-up.
Walking across the quad, you may hear Britney, Usher, Carly Rae, JLo, any artist’s music blaring from the windows and usually accompanied by some very loud conversations; conversations which take place by the window to escape the excessive heat built up by the other guests in attendance. Dorm parties are rarely exclusive events. You drink? You’re in.
For some reason, if you are in the partying crowd, you seem to be placed on an imaginary pedestal. You’re ‘popular;’ at least for the time being. This is what I originally thought coming into Notre Dame. It’s this naïve idea that those who host or attend parties know a lot of people and will know and be known by more students. Or by participating in events you will ‘see and be seen.’ It really is a self-created pedestal.
Alcohol is a major player in the minds of many students, on and off campus. You’re having a get together? Oh, let’s have some beer. You got an A on that research paper? Let’s celebrate and get trashed! Sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it? Let’s destroy or weaken the tool we just utilized so well – our brain! But to the immature individual, this just seems like the likely progression of thought. Alcohol is so ingrained in our campus culture (and Notre Dame is not unique in this).
Smith presented a great point – and it may have come from the words of one of those he interviewed. Intoxication came completely out of boredom. Once contemplated, this thought is a reality. We don’t know what else to do on a Friday night – get ahead in our studies? You serious? Watch a movie? Maybe once we come back from Finney’s or that party in Zahm. Grab some Ben & Jerry’s from The Huddle and scoop it down with some good conversation? I’d rather get the carbs from Natty.
It’s not necessarily something someone else can change for us. We have to change it ourselves. The growth and realization has to occur internally. You never know what it feels like unless it happens to you. Unfortunately this statement hold very true. You usually really don’t understand the uselessness of this alcoholic and sexual culture until you’re a part of it and seen both ends of the spectrum. At first it may be an absolute blast – you seem to be making friends and meeting new people all the time. But are these real friends? Will you acknowledge each other as you walk past? Would you be able to hold a conversation sober with them?
We’re hiding our insecurities. As Ms. Flanagan wrote in the Atlantic Monthly, those who often abuse alcohol and sex are “desperate for attention, and who have no idea how to obtain it.” It serves as an excuse to cover up our insecurities. As Oprah recently told the graduating class of Harvard, the constant need for approval underlines our actions. We seek approval from others because it hardest to accept it from within. What better way to seek approval than by following the example of the intoxicated and sexually adventurous, for that’s an easy solution to all our problems, isn’t it?