Alcohol speaker: Don't want to listen? Don't go.

By The Beacon | September 30, 2010 9:00pm

By Hillary White, CPB Director


I feel bad because the Alcohol Education Program CPB provides during Homecoming week is designed to give good information that can assist students with making informed choices. It exists only to benefit the community. But if the student body cannot offer its attention and respect, how effective can it be?

Our students take pride in our community and work to better it any way they can. However, this past Monday night, I feel our student body grossly misrepresented the kind of community I know UP to be.

A few years back, students' misuse and abuse of alcohol while attending the Homecoming Dance was serious enough that in a period of 18 months three different venues (the Dearborn Air Museum, the Crown Ballroom, and the Emerald Ballroom at the Tiffany Center) told us that the University of Portland was no longer welcome to return.

There were fights. There were students vomiting on the dance floor. One student crawled under the buffet table and lost consciousness. At one venue, someone actually broke a urinal completely off the wall in the men's bathroom.

CPB learned from its mistakes. We realized that we needed to provide alcohol education to the student body to prevent such belligerent behavior from happening.

CPB decided that the best way to reach those students was to offer an educational speaker and give out free tickets to the dance for those who participated. We thought that we could reward students for taking the initiative to educate themselves about alcohol abuse. And for the most part this clever and creative incentive program has been hugely successful for the past five years. By all accounts, the numbers of incidents involving intoxicated students at the Homecoming Dance have been reduced.

So let's get back to what happened on Monday night. CPB provided alcohol education, and in return, students would get one free ticket to the Homecoming Dance. But for some reason, several students decided that they only needed to show up to the program to get their ticket, listening optional.

Many students brought laptops, others homework. Still others decided that they would wear headphones during the entire event to tune out the speaker. I'm most shocked that some were disrespectful enough to take phone calls during the presentation.

And I guess students have figured out the system, because several students thought to time their arrival at the very end to avoid the lecture, and go straight to the Chiles Center Mezzanine for the free dance ticket. Hey, nobody is going to notice, right?

It was clear to me, however, that many members of the student body weren't appreciative of the information, nor the efforts of the Campus Program Board. Those individuals just wanted a free ticket and made it very clear by their behavior that they felt they deserved it.

Nobody forced you to be there. The ticket was not compensation. Is your time worth $10? This is the choice students must make. But why attend at all if you don't plan on listening?

Normally I consider the UP community to be activists for what is important in the community. The behavior on Monday night demonstrated a completely different impression. This was not a mandatory event. If you don't want to be educated, do us all a favor and don't attend.