Party Culture at DePauw and the Monon Bell Game
The time has come. This weekend is the Monon Bell Game, a time when DePauw and Wabash meet on the football field in an attempt to settle a rivalry that dates back to 1890. Generations of students and alumni will look on from the stands as DePauw and Wabash duke it out for the right to either take back or keep the coveted Monon Bell. But amidst the return of alumni and the big game for the Monon Bell, another “celebration” of sorts is occurring on campus. In addition to Monon being one of the biggest games for DePauw, it is also a huge party weekend for students.
Regardless of whether DePauw wins or loses to Wabash next week, there will be parties. Students will have been pregaming since the day before the game, if not all week. This semester’s past record of excessive drinking and the hospitalizations on campus looms over the heavy drinking that has occurred in the past during Monon games, and the heavy drinking that will likely occur this upcoming Monon game. It seems as if students justify the excessive drinking and partying with tradition, as if the one of DePauw’s biggest games almost requires some sort of intoxication.
DePauw has been dealing with the campus drinking problem all semester, trying to figure out why so many students seem to binge drink. Perhaps, in addition to the students themselves, it is the culture of DePauw that fosters drinking habits in students, especially influencing first years. If this is the case, how should DePauw proceed in regulating student behavior? And how will that affect the relationship between the students and the administration?
There are a handful of big party weekends on DePauw’s campus. There’s the Greek property opening for first years, Halloween weekend, and Monon for first semester. During second semester, there is St. Patrick’s Day and Little 5. These weekends are popularized around campus and are attributed to the “college experience.” How the “college experience” is defined can be altered in a way that favors partying, and it influences students, especially first years, to indulge in alcohol related activities. This correlation between the “college experience” and partying was demonstrated during the opening weekend of Greek property. Emily Schabes, a staff writer for the DePauw newspaper, learned from a student that during the opening of Greek property, an unconscious student had to be carried by friends in order to be transported to the hospital.
Despite what happened during the opening of Greek property, a concrete correlation can’t be drawn between the big party weekends and the drinking on campus. Although the big party weekends contribute to the drinking problem, they might not be the main cause. There have only been two big party weekends this semester, and only one of them led to students being hospitalized. In addition, there has been a fluctuation in student hospitalizations long before the big party weekends began. Alan Hill, vice president of Student Academic Life, sent out an email on September 15th that compared the increase of binge drinking on DePauw’s campus to a decline of binge drinking on other college campuses. Alan’s email was sent out before any of the big party weekends occurred, indicating that drinking issues were already happening on campus. But this doesn’t mean that the big party weekends aren’t exacerbating the drinking problem.
If students were being hospitalized before DePauw’s big party weekends, it might be an indicator that their binge drinking habits manifested before even coming on campus. Indeed, according to research conducted by the University of Minnesota, 42 percent of high school seniors had drank alcohol prior to a survey about alcohol consumption. If students already have a history of drinking, it could explain in part why there has been an increase in binge drinking on campus. However, the popularity of the big weekends on campus also contribute to the problem. The weekend’s popularity and influence from other students can make students such as first years feel the need to drink, therefore adding to DePauw’s drinking problem. It’s as if the prospect of a big party weekend requires alcohol. Much like a class that needs to be taken for a major, there seems to be a false belief that intoxication is a prerequisite to fully “enjoy” weekends such as Monon.
How was this belief of intense partying for big weekends on campus facilitated? Is it a notion passed down from upperclassmen to freshman in order to keep up DePauw’s “culture of drinking?” If so, students might justify intense drinking for big weekends by saying that it keeps up DePauw traditions and creates bonds between upperclassmen and freshmen. However, whatever bonds that may be created or whatever traditions that may be continued are not worth the safety of DePauw students. With that said, this year’s Monon Bell weekend will test the morals of DePauw students and be a key factor in determining the root of DePauw’s drinking problem.