(Note: names marked with a * have been changed to preserve a source’s anonymity)
Jonathan*, a Concordia sophomore, recalls that his first experience at a college dance was not entirely what he expected, due to an incident that occurred at last year’s Theme Dance.
Jonathan said he attended the dance to socialize and “meet women.” But what he had not bargained for was what happened when he actually met someone.
“A pair of women were kind of dancing near me,” Jonathan said, “and then (one of them) start(ed) dancing on me — she smelled of alcohol — but I was thinking, ‘I’m in no position to turn this down.’”
Jonathan continued to dance, until, as he put it, “suddenly, (we were), like, making out … and ever since then, I’ve not wanted to go to dances.”
With Concordia’s Homecoming having just passed and the annual Halloween Bash shortly on its way, the issue of student intoxication is a concern for both students and staff.
There were 147 disciplinary referrals for liquor violations on Concordia’s campus last year and 35 arrests, according to 2013’s annual public safety report for Concordia. This figure is up from 96 referrals and 20 arrests in 2011.
Concordia College’s Public Safety director, William MacDonald, said via email that he thinks the increase in liquor violations on campus between the last two years was due to increased staffing and awareness, as opposed to increased student drinking.
Emily*, a junior who has attended several dances while intoxicated, thinks there might be multiple reasons for student drinking before campus events.
“It’s an easy way to have fun at a dance,” Emily said. “(T)he whole idea of being in a dark area surrounded by people is kind of scary, and, if you’re drunk, you’re more comfortable with it.”
She also said she feels it is “more acceptable” for her to drink now than it will be later in life, adding that “it’s a college thing.”
Even though Emily chooses to drink before dances, she recognizes the negative impact student intoxication can have for those who have not been drinking.
“I feel like it’s embarrassing for the students that are intoxicated,” Emily said. “And maybe in that sense it’s entertaining for the ones that aren’t, but, at the same time, it can be really disruptive and disrespectful.”
Emily cited last year’s Halloween Bash as an example of an occasion for which student intoxication went too far, specifically in relation the “Haunted Maize.”
The Associate Director of Concordia’s Residence Life department, Mikal Kenfield, shares Emily’s opinion on the negative effects student intoxication can have, and she also singled out last year’s Halloween Bash as an example.
“There were definitely some intoxicated students,” Kenfield said, though she also stressed that she would not characterize last year’s Bash as “an out-of-control situation.”
The issue of student intoxication at previous years’ events has led to increased security measures at larger campus events, such as Cornstock and the Halloween Bash.
At this year’s Bash, for example, attendees will only be able to use one entrance, a practice which has been in place at other events in previous years. This will act as “a sort of crowd control,” Kenfield said.
Kenfield also feels there is a disparity over student perception of drinking on campus.
“(A) lot of students would be surprised if they knew how few (students drink on campus),” Kenfield said. “I think it’s kind of a vocal minority.”
The idea that students perceive more on-campus drinking than actually happens is not new. A Concordian article from last April about the college’s dry campus policy cited statistics from the National College Health Assessment, for which nearly 30 percent of students reported not using alcohol, though students believed that only 1.2 percent of students did not use alcohol.
The director of Concordia’s Campus Entertainment Commission, Nicholas Bainer, said that part of the issue might simply be the types of people going to dances.
“We do see a very different audience at dances than we do at Grocery Bingo or things like that,” Bainer said.
Jonathan, though he said he does “indulge in alcohol occasionally,” said he does not attend dances drunk and expressed exasperation with continued student intoxication at this year’s homecoming events.
“I went to the (homecoming) bonfire with some of my friends,” Jonathan said. “And the whole time I remember thinking, ‘Wow, I’m way too sober for this. (T)hese drunk people are really annoying.’”
Kenfield expressed solidarity with this kind of response to intoxication at events.
“I want to get to a place where those students can feel comfortable saying to their peers, ‘Hey, quit ruining this for everybody. This isn’t fun,’” she said.
Austin Gerth is a member of Concordia’s class of 2016. He edits the Opinion section. He has worked variously as a pizza cook, night-time dishwasher, caterer and water park attendant. He is a writing major, having determined through his experiences in the working world that he is ill-suited to manual labor. He enjoys ginger ale and no longer owns a poodle. He also writes for The COBBlog, and contributes freelance writing to MPR.