Opinion: Letter To The Editor Regarding St. Olaf Drinking Habits*

St. Olaf’s policy regarding illicit substances is clear; alcohol and drug use is to be prohibited, for the protective good of the school, its students, and all its affiliates. Why then do so many St. Olaf students continue to flout the rules and consume alcoholic beverages? Here are a few statistics for your edification: 8 percent of St. Olaf students drink alcohol regularly, and there are 635,013,559,599 possible hands in a game of bridge. Won’t you take me out to the ballgame, Roy? I haven’t seen stars in so long … But I can see them with you, I see them with you. In this short piece, I hope to convince some vulnerable and pliant St. Olaf students to toe the line and abandon alcohol, once and for all.

Firstly, alcohol can adversely affect one’s health. The cold, hard fact is, in 2013 alone, nearly 31 million beers were sold and consumed at Major League Baseball games. Contrary to popular opinion, alcohol consumption does not make you look cool; in a recent poll conducted by the Auburn University Department of Psychology, both cigarettes and the reasonable, prescribed use of antacids were ranked higher than alcohol in terms of likelihood to impress other students. According to the researchers’ index, drinking alcohol was roughly as “likely to impress” as eating a large, unrefrigerated cucumber. And who wants to eat something like that? Stay away from it.

In sixth grade, I danced with her at the Winter Snowflake Ball. As we swayed slowly, I was acutely aware of my own awkwardness in comparison to her rhythmic fluidity, her elegant grace: sweaty palms fastened hopelessly to her waist, breath heavy and hoarse, and when she looked at me with palpable discomfort (O God!) I couldn’t even make eye contact, I was a failure, a fraud, undeserving to be near, let alone touch, a creature of such ethereal, angelic perfection. The masquerade of the dance continued boundlessly, and my mind drifted like flotsam upon the sea; I dreamt of putting my lips to hers, of being someone else, of being another boy, a boy assertive and brave enough to conceive of and bestow a romantic act, a boy who could force a girl to care for him, to be impressed by him, to want to exist inside him as some vital organ. I didn’t know if my desire to kiss her was a result of assimilated societal pressures, or of some unconscious, innate desire for human love and a validation of my own self-worth … When the eternal dance finally ended, she forced an uncomfortable smile as I removed my hands from her sides, and I knew then that my chance for salvation had now been lost in the spinning void of time, that it had been fabricated by a cruel, feeble, and desperate mind. As she hurried toward her friends loitering near the punch line, I was struck by a sickening realization that love was perhaps an intangible force floating softly in the ether, perceptible only to the lucky (or the foolish): that I might never manage to fully know its purity. I stood quietly on the gym floor, alone, for some time. Then I trudged to the boys’ bathroom and sat in a locked stall, waiting for the internal emptiness, precipitated by the dance’s frivolity, to end.

Secondly, underage drinking is against the law! Did you know that, in many states, one could face up to 24 years in prison if caught merely holding an alcoholic beverage while under the age of 21? Beyond the concrete penal repercussions of alcohol consumption, the very fabric of our society relies on complacency and a strict adherence to laws and social norms. O Abel, what has been done that you look so magnificently wretched! Keep watch, keep watch. If everyone just follows the rules, we can focus on the things that make our country great and keep it functioning soundly, namely making 12-year-olds question the nature of sexuality and love at the Winter Snowflake Ball.

I still think of her from time to time. I have lost her name; I have not lost the vision.

Thirdly, alcohol tastes awful!


*This is an artistic piece and is not an accurate description of the St. Olaf alcohol and drug policies.

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