Flying fists and abusive exchanges are an unfortunate, yet common result of unsuccessfully monitored alcohol at college parties.
Alcohol is not illegal and should not need to be treated as if it is. After all, it is not cocaine or pot. But if these sorts of confrontations are typical, where alcohol is plentiful, than perhaps it should be treated as a lethal substance.
On a college campus, such as this one, there are students who are under 21 and many who are of legal drinking age; distinguishing between the two at a raging party can be difficult. On October 31, Phi Theta Chi and Phi Delta Theta hosted a Halloween bash, co-sponsored by ASF. This party was free to all ULV students, and entrance into the Mountain Meadows room required a simple flash of the student ID. If the student was of age, a Mountain Meadows worker stamped the student’s hand, verifying his or her status.
Early in the evening, students were frolicking, dressed in costumes from traditional to bizarre. Clusters of students were laughing and dancing to disco and hip-hop music. Everybody got along for the most part.
Deep in the back of the large room, behind dancing witches and goblins and lounging party animals, there was a white counter and alcohol galore—a fully-stocked bar—courtesy of Mountain Meadows.
The hosts and party-goers were forbidden to bring any alcohol themselves, yet it was not a non-alcoholic party by any means. Once students took notice of the high-priced drinks, trouble began. Students flashed their faded stamp and paid for a drink. When they were given the drinks, all age restrictions ended. They could bring the drinks to any underage friend who wanted one. Who was going to check to see if the actual consumer was of age? Why bother to require proof of age in the first place? Even if the consumer was of age there was no restriction on the amount of alcohol he/she could purchase.
By two hours into the party, alcohol was everywhere, and the free pitchers of non-alcoholic punch and water were gone. Students were louder and more energetic and those who over-indulged at the bar began to react adversely to the alcohol absorbed in their blood systems. For some, this meant loosening up and laughing uncontrollably, but for others it meant turning violent.
In the midst of Alcohol Awareness Week and in a body of students from a “dry” campus, tension grew. To the right and to the left partyers clustered around two individuals blurting obscenities and looking ready to kill. Some tried to stop the foreshadowed fights, yet other encouraged a brawl, gathering friends and recommending that the angry partyers “take it outside.” Fortunately responsible students managed to prevent any fights, but tension still remained.
This was not the only such recent occurrence. Sigma Alpha Epsilon hosted an all-school party on Nov. 4, Homecoming Saturday. A catered bar was again provided. Students were carded, but once alcohol was purchased, drinks circulated throughout the house. Share and share the legal drinkers did, until everyone who wanted a little buzz had one (21 or not), and the remnants of alcoholic beverages littered the SAE house. Once again, alcohol led to a fight between two women and this sparked other brawls between incoherent students, turned angry by alcohol. These fights only lasted until the police, notified by the five hired security officers, came to break up the party-crashers.
These parties are not the only ones that have resulted in alcohol-induced confrontations and brawls, they are just more recent than others. Nor are the fights always between underage drinkers. The impact of alcohol effects everybody differently. The problem results when alcohol is abused rather than used, and there is a total failure in monitoring its consumption.