Lessons learned from a sober weekend

The passing of The Big Event means another sober weekend has come and gone on campus, perhaps without many students even realizing it was taking place. It also means Wheaton College saw an abundance of people wearing shirts sporting the word ‘SOBER’ in big capital letters, many of whom will later wear them while intoxicated, an ironic tradition that has taken place since the Big Event first started selling the T-shirts years ago.

But what is so wrong with being sober? Why does the college atmosphere, not just at Wheaton College but at universities around the globe, give rise to the notion that drunken weekends are the only weekends that amount to any fun? Although this idea is clearly a generalization – drinking certainly is not the only fun thing college students do – there is a clear divide between those who consume alcohol and those who choose not to drink, resulting in a group of students who might feel lame, boring, left-out or weird.

With Hollywood college stereotypes and pre-conceptions about Greek life, it is easy to believe that all college students drink with no concern for moderation, but this has often been disproven. Posters put up around campus only last semester assert that 60 percent of students at Wheaton drink once per week or less and, according to a national survey, 16 percent of college students report that they do not drink at all.

While Wheaton’s sober weekend has passed, there are some valuable lessons to be learned from an attempt to keep the campus dry if only for two nights. Spending a weekend without alcohol can be good for an individual’s stress levels, allowing one to focus more on completing whatever tasks may be causing such stress.

There are also other things to do besides drink, including events here on campus such as Bacchus movies at 9:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, free Programming Council events and student productions and concerts. A weekend without drinking also means the ability to drive wherever you want without having to worry about assigning a designated driver.

Of course, it is silly and even unfair to try and persuade an autonomous young adult into never drinking alcohol, and it can be tempting to view a sober weekend on a college campus as such a didactic endeavor. However a sober weekend is not meant to be a lesson, or a breach of individual freedoms, or a way to convince people alcohol is evil. It should be viewed as a reminder that there are other things to do that do not include liquor, and that it is completely okay to not drink and still function as a fun and happy person. Let functions like The Big Event and Wheaton’s sober weekend not be an excuse to make fun of such an idea, but instead act as a salute to the fact that drinking really isn’t everything.