“Alcohol itself is not the problem, it’s what we choose to do with it when we use it,” said nationally known speaker and author Rick Barnes during his speech March 13 at the Lowman Student Center Theatre. The program was sponsored by the Panhellenic Council, the Interfratnernity Council and the Student Government Association
Barnes said college students spent more on beer last year than they spent on textbooks.
“Women are a lot smarter than men,” Barnes said. “Sorority houses are much nicer than fraternity houses because the men spend all of their money on beer.”
Barnes said fraternities and sororities are often given a bad image because there are usually just a handful of people in each group that are not responsible when it comes to alcohol.
“Most groups have at least five idiot members,” he said. “Despite how much good they do, there are still people that join fraternities and sororities because they think they are all about alcohol.”
Barnes said fewer students are drinking alcohol today, but the amount they are consuming is much greater.
He said some students drink all week long, and often neglect their studies, which is the reason they came to college in the first place.
“Drinking becomes a problem when instead of asking, ‘where is the weekend?’ you start asking ‘where is the week?'” Barnes said.
Barnes said there are many reasons why students drink, and he listed some of the reasons found in the College of Alcohol Survey.
He said one of the reasons students drink is to have a sense of belonging and that most people would not do the irresponsible things they do with alcohol if they were not involved in the crowd that does that sort of thing.
“If something involves alcohol, some people do a lot of stupid stuff,” Barnes said.
Barnes said another reason students get involved with alcohol is to supply themselves with something to talk about.
“Whenever students go to parties, they normally end up talking about the one idiot that drank too much,” Barnes said. “People assume all fraternity and sorority members are that way, even if only 1 percent of the members are irresponsible. Instead of focusing on that, we should start talking about the other 99 percent that are responsible.”
Another excuse students give for drinking is that there are no structured events held between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. Barnes said in spite of that fact there are alternative to alcohol consumption.
“Instead of thinking about how bored you are at that time, you should use that time to get some rest,” he said
Barnes said drinking facilitates sexual encounters, and this is another reason why students drink.
“Have you ever noticed that after you’ve had a few drinks, you’re in love?” he said. “There is a challenge with this, and it could lead to dangerous situations.”
Barnes said men often give the excuse that they drink because they do not communicate with each other as well as women and they need a way to bond.
“Men can’t think of what else to do during recreational parties, so they drink,” he said. Referring to the fact that only women attended the meeting, Barnes said, “It ought to alarm you that the men don’t want to come to be educated about alcohol.”
Barnes said many students drink because they believe it is their right to be able to consume alcohol.
“In the United States, you have the right to do anything you want to do if you stay within the parameters of the law,” he said. “The parameter put around drinking is the thing called the 21 and up drinking age.”
Barnes said 75 percent of college students have not reached the legal drinking age and do not have the right to drink.
“You can’t say it’s your right to drink if you are under 21 because the parameters of the law say you cannot drink at that age,” Barnes said.
Barnes listed some of the effects of alcohol on the body, and one of these affects is numbing of brain cells.
“Why are you here in the first place?” Barnes said. “If you’re numbing your brain cells four days out of the week, you need to put that in perspective.”
Barnes said another effect of alcohol on the body is slowed reaction time and coordination skills.
“Even if you have been driving forever, it is possible to think the gas pedal is the brake pedal,” he said.
Other effects on the body he mentioned were slurred speech, an increase in body temperature, more erratic behavior and more sensual behavior.
“Alcohol knows us as well as we know ourselves,” Barnes said. “One thing it knows is how much you’ve already had.”
Barnes said people often drink more than one drink on the way to a party.
“The biggest problem is what people are doing before they even show up to a party,” he said.
According to Barnes, people need to know how many drinks their body can take before it starts to have adverse effects on them.
“I don’t know what your number is, but you always need to know your number,” he said.
Barnes said food does not help people become less drunk, but only adds to the time alcohol is in the bloodstream.
“Food absorbs alcohol, so instead of becoming sober in five to eight hours, you will not become sober until after eight to 10 hours.”
Barnes said there are five phases the body goes through if alcohol continues to be consumed. He said the first phase is drinking what the body can handle. The second phase the body goes through is a series of warning signs, such as slurred speech and staggering. The third phase is vomiting, the fourth phase is passing out and the fifth phase is death by alcohol poisoning.
“It only takes five phases,” Barnes said. “Alcohol is a smart drug.”
Barnes said some problems that may be associated alcohol are drunk driving, driving under the influence citations, sexually transmitted diseases, acquaintance rape, depression and death.
Some of the students who attended Barnes’ speech thought it was informative and educational.
“The speech was very good. If was informative, especially since Spring Break is coming up,” sophomore Sharon Crawley said. “I think people will think twice about drinking too much.”
“The speech hit very important topics that people often overlook but need to know more about,” sophomore Andrea Thomas said.
Junior Eliza Biondi said, “It was a great blend of humor and education.”