Sober students at Wheaton: They exist!

Planning on having a few glasses of wine while eating dinner or binge watching a show on Netflix? Not on this college campus! Taking shots, playing beer pong in a dimly lit, noisy room and endless binge drinking are just a few of the examples that movies and television shows portray weekends on the average American college campus.

This is not the case at Wheaton, as some students are completely sober and many drink alcohol only on rare occasions. Sober students who live on upper campus, where most of the drinking happens, feel that there are other ways to have fun on the weekends.

For some, being sober is a matter of principle. Mehreen Khan ’17 does not drink because of religious reasons, as she is Muslim and was raised in a conservative household. Solid in her beliefs, Khan said she was prepared for the college drinking culture. “I just noticed it [drinking] more [at college]. When my friends wanted to hang out, it was usually around drinking. I would compromise by hanging out with them before they went out. There is no sense of awkwardness. [Afterwards] I go back to my dorm and do my own thing,” she said.

Khan felt that drinking was less prevalent when she was in her freshman and junior year, as she lived on lower campus. “Freshman year I lived in Young which was at the time a wellness dorm. I didn’t have to interact with the alcohol aspect as much. My first friends were similar. We were generally in our dorm,” she said.

Francis Rosa ’18 lives in Gebbie and has also never had alcohol or any other drug. He chooses to be sober for health reasons and after having seen the ugly side of drinking in the past. On being one of the few sober people at a party he said, “People are crazy. It’s interesting getting to watch them throughout the night — they get louder and louder.” Rosa also felt that he is around drinking more now that he lives in a suite, compared to when he lived in Young.

Rosa enjoys socializing at parties but it is not the highlight of his weekend. “I can be anti-social. I’m eating food and watching Netflix or reading a book at 12 a.m. on Saturday. What I do normally is homework and creative writing,” he said. Rosa added that he enjoys going to Wheaton activities like the Dimple Divers show and movie screenings in Hindle when he has the time.

For some, the lack of control and sickness that comes with being drunk is enough to keep them sober. Juliana Liu’17 says that although she has tried alcohol, she does not like the taste of it. “I don’t like the feeling of getting sick and not knowing what’s happening around me. I’m not interested [in drinking and parties] so I don’t feel like being left out is a big deal.” Liu added that her family restrictions aligned with her own choice not to drink.

Kulacha Euchukanonchai ’17 drinks on special occasions and for networking purposes. She and Liu and agreed that it was easier to be sober with other non-drinking friends. “I sleep, eat, and do homework on the weekends. Sometimes I go to Wheaton activities when there is free food. It’s not like I’m dying for something to do if I don’t drink,” Liu said. “If you have internet then you can survive,” Euchukanonchai added.

Kamran Noorian ’17 is the treasurer of Boosting Alcohol Consciousness (BAC), a club that encourages responsible drinking and hosts alcohol-free events. “Many people believe that BAC is anti-drinking but we promote safe drinking, to drink but know where your limit is,” he said. To this end, BAC hosts an event or two every weekend such as the movie screenings and plans trips to Sky Zone and Dave and Busters. Some events like Bactoberfest even incorporate drinking for those of age.

Other members of BAC echoed Noorian in saying that the club was about safe choice and open to everyone. Many said that they did not feel pressured to drink at Wheaton and that others respected their decision to drink or not drink. BAC senior advisor Claire McIntyre ’17 on behalf of the club, advised students to get involved with clubs such as BAC and Programming Council. She also recommended exploring Boston and Providence on the weekends, going to Wheaton sporting events and attending free late night events on campus.

Noorian himself drinks occasionally but felt that it would not be difficult to stay sober at Wheaton. He felt that alcohol was more accessible on upper campus but it was not much of a walk from lower campus. He added that many people assumed that everyone was getting drunk and partying every weekend. “People do that for a month and realize it’s not the norm. There’s other ways to have fun and interact with people,” he said.