Partly smart

The Party Smart website is a valuable resource for UVM students. It provides clear definitions of the UVM alcohol and drug policy and the penalties for violating them — which all students should be familiar with — and has a detailed list of ways to throw a party without it getting out of control.  However, while the current Party Smart website acknowledges that students drink and throw parties, it is not successful in creating an alternative resource about drinking that avoids a patronizing us-against-them tone. It still reads as though it is an RA speaking down to a group of students, condescendingly listing administration-approved “tips.” What student would say to a friend, “If you want to have a sexual encounter be sure to ask for and receive consent?”   We need information in terms that students can relate to and apply.   What students would benefit from is an open forum where they can talk amongst themselves about the drinking culture without administrative oversight.  We should be talking about the realities of our drinking:  How much are we drinking? How often? What do we consider safe drinking? Alcohol is a given on all college campuses, including UVM’s, and we are not going to be able to keep it under control unless students are honest and open with themselves and each other. We need older students to teach younger students how to drink responsibly, without the overarching message that getting drunk is simply unacceptable. Students are far more likely to pay attention to other students when they explain how much better partying with two or three drinks is than going to town with 10 — no matter how many times they complete the AlcoholEdu program. Although attempting to avoid sounding preachy, the Party Smart site undermines this goal by presenting information from administrative organizations and phrasing it in terminology that students cannot relate to easily. We’re not suggesting that the information  isn’t worthwhile. Rather, we feel that other, additional sources would be more effective with the student body. The Cynic believes that in addition to the current website, Party Smart should have an additional site or page that is entirely student-run, providing a forum for students to discuss drinking culture, practices and alternatives with peers. We encourage all students to visit the current Party Smart site and take advantage of its useful information.  We also think that students would benefit from peer-to-peer discussion of drinking at UVM. This is our campus, our lives and our bodies — let’s know how much alcohol we’re putting in them.