Hazing News

The college debate: to drink a lot, a little, or abstain: The DePauw

DePauw: Students making the decision not to drink or...



Some students kick off the weekend on Thirsty Thursday when they celebrate the end of another rigorous week of schoolwork with black lights, thumping house music and bottles of alcohol. Though DePauw is often hailed as a “party school,” not all students partake in such activities.

“When I see people drink, I see that they are kind of like a shell of a human being, and that is something that really doesn’t appeal to me,” junior Benjamin Diekhoff said.

Diekhoff chooses to abstain from drinking both on and off campus. Although he is part of a fraternity, Diekhoff as of now does not drink for both religious and legal reasons. Diekhoff follows the Roman Catholic faith, which has played a huge role in his decision not to drink.

“If we should drink, it should be in moderation.” Diekhoff said.

Angela Nally, director of Public Safety, offered some additional factors that come into play when DePauw students decide whether or not to drink.

“Students need to take into account several things before making the decision to use alcohol… if they are in compliance with the law, their family values regarding alcohol use [and] also how alcohol affects them personally, because it affects each and every person differently,” she said.

Nally also said that not only should students take into account if they are going to use alcohol, they should also take into consideration how they interact with alcohol.

One way the faculty on campus helps inform students about the way they interact with alcohol is through organizations like S.O.A.R., The Student Organized Alcohol Research project. Senior members Kati Lear and Lian Weinstein both work closely with psychology professor Pam Propsom on gathering information about the drinking culture at DePauw.

“Our main aim is not to govern the student body, but just to educate them about how much their peers actually do drink and what perceptions they have,” Lear said of S.O.A.R.

Weinstein said that they try to inform students about drinking by asking them questions like, “Do you know how much a shot is?” as opposed to saying, “Hey, you shouldn’t drink!”

According to The Student Organized Alcohol Research report for the 2011-12 academic year, 15.4 percent of the student body does not drink. However, only 22 percent of the campus would describe themselves as “risky” drinkers, meaning they have eight drinks or more per sitting.

Both Lear and Weinstein said that students should drink responsibly and safely.

Members of S.O.A.R. and DePauw After Dark both try to educate the student body before and during events where students may decide to “pre-game.” The programs set up booths with free food, but they also provide facts and statistics that reflect the drinking culture on campus.

During last year’s preparation week before the Little 5 races, S.O.A.R. attracted interest to their booth where students could wear B.A.C. goggles and learn how much alcohol is really in a shot compared to their initial perceptions. DePauw After Dark also presents free food trucks on campus during late nights so students can have a meal before or in between drinking sessions.

While DePauw provides students with Drinking Alternative programs to cut down the drinking here on campus, some students who choose to abstain from drinking still go to parties. For example, since Diekhoff’s fraternity hosts parties, he volunteers as a sober monitor.

“Since I’m already going to be sober, I might as well help out the house by walking around and making sure everybody else is okay,” he said.

When Diekhoff decides not to surround himself with the partying scene, he plays video games with friends and occasionally vists Plainfield.

When asked if he was ever pressured into drinking before, he said, “My friends are kind of surprised still that I don’t drink…I’m lucky to live in a fraternity that accepts me and doesn’t care at all that I choose not to drink.”

Diekhoff will celebrate a big milestone in his life later this week, turning 21. He does plan to drink with some friends on that day, but not excessively.

“A lot of people depend on alcohol in order to have a good time, and I pride myself on not [having] to do that.”

By Hank Nuwer

Journalist Hank Nuwer is the Alaska author of Hazing: Destroying Young Lives; Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. In April of 2024, the Alaska Press Club awarded him first place in the Best Columnist division and Best Humorist, second place.

He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His current book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press. He is married to Malgorzata Wroblewska Nuwer of Warsaw, Poland and Fairbanks, Alaska. Nuwer is a former columnist for the Greenville (Ohio)Early Bird and former managing editor of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in Alaska.
Nuwer was named the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists columnist of the year in 2021 for his “After Darke” column in the Early Bird. He also won third place for the column in 2022 from the Indiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He and his wife Gosia, recently of Union City, Ind., have owned 20 acres in Alaska for many years. “The move is a sort-of coming home for us,” said Nuwer. As a journalist, he’s written about the Alaskan Iditarod sled-dog race and other Alaska topics. Read his musings in his blog at Real Alaska Daily-- and in his weekly column "Far from Randolph" in the Winchester Star-Gazette of Randolph County, Indiana.

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