Little did you know, UMBC is a center of performance art and interpretive dance. Every Friday night, if you just step outside your dorm or your apartment, you can see the weekly performance. All of the people you see on campus are totally hammered. They are completely fractured, plastered and “turnt up.” We here at the Retriever enjoy watching the weekly dance of kids stumbling around, screaming and laughing. It’s a work of art.
Around the Retriever office, we’ve noticed that students are drinking more than they used to. We’ve seen who is wandering campus at night and we’ve seen how drunk they are, but the numbers back up our anecdotes. According to UMBC crime statistics, in 2014 there were 159 referrals for liquor law violations, which is up 18 percent from 132 referrals in 2013. There is more drinking, there are more violations and more students putting their health at risk.
It seems that UMBC has developed a culture of alcohol use out of a half-serious desire to to compensate for something. We know we’re a “school for nerds,” but we may as well be a school for drunk nerds. According to online crowd sourced rating site Niche, UMBC’s party scene has earned a “C,” while College Park maintains an “A” rating. To try to prove that we’re a party school and that we can give college kids the college experience, we’ve been drinking a lot.
Because our party scene has been long derided, UMBC students want to demonstrate, mostly to ourselves, that we know how to have a good time. We are trying to prove that we don’t just study, but have fun too. This drives our desire to get drunk and disorderly, and go pee on the quad every weekend.
UMBC students get very drunk, but in small groups and intimate settings rather than at huge college parties. This isn’t new. Our lack of a party scene means that social gatherings are smaller and are based around activities like movie nights. We may not have ragers, but we can hold our liquor. UMBC’s student body is determined to demonstrate its hammered side, but it is not without consequences.
A typical Friday night at UMBC also includes at least one ambulance. It’s not unusual anymore to see emergency services on campus responding to an alcohol case. With our new penchant for alcohol, there has come an unhealthy environment of unsafe drinking. We’re so determined to be a party school that it is putting us in the hospital.
It may be fun to watch people tripping up the stairs in the early hours of the morning, but it’s also dangerous. Despite university efforts to curtail alcohol use, students have developed unsafe drinking habits. All incoming students are informed about the risks of heavy drinking through the AlcoholEdu course, but it doesn’t seem to have discouraged risky behavior.
This is not to discourage contacting emergency services. If we are making poor decisions, we’re at least making the right decision to get help when someone needs it. It just seems as if we’re having to make that decision too frequently.
If the university wants to turn the tide of liquor, they’re going to have to make some adjustments. That doesn’t mean cracking down on the only way us Retrievers know how to relax — it means teaching students healthier and more productive ways to do it.
We’ve proven one thing: we’re turning up-and-coming. If we see you struggling down a flight of steps at 2 a.m. on a Saturday, we’ll stop and say hello, and we’ll see if you need help.