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The LiveJournal community has been quite interesting of late. First a chick asked why the DC hub was down, so I gave her a sarcastic answer. Then an old thread where someone asked about dorm life was revived, with the conversation moving from that to the difference between substance-free and normal living options.

You know me, I had to weigh in on it, and things got contentious, going downhill from there. This guy made me incredibly angry—this is someone I thought I knew, but apparently he underestimates my reasoning ability. Such a total lack of regard—he even posted about it on his personal blog, too. (And in an incredibly juvenile fashion: Yes, clearly the thing to do when people disagree with you is to ask your moderator friend to ban them from the group. That's real adult.)

So I decided it was necessary to rebut my position. Watch it get me banned from the group altogether—such is the price we pay for being honest about what we think. Remind me not to do the whole honesty thing, neh?

It just makes me sad to see this occur. For once I feel justified in saying I've been misunderstood. Alas, there are real reasons I don't tell most people what I think about things. If the subject is alcohol and the setting is this campus, I get boxed into this corner where I'm no longer respected—instead, I'm the alarmist "anti-alcohol girl," my opinions no longer amounting to shit because I hold a viewpoint that's supposedly worthy of ridicule.

Anyway, here's what you can do. Catch up on the entire thread here, then read the following rebuttal, which I posted to the group because it was too long for a comment:

"I'm only posting this as an entire post because it was too long to post as a simple comment. Jazzy et al.—please understand I'm not flaming here. I really hope you don't take my comments as anything other than self-defense, a clarification, and a rebuttal. I think what I have to say has merit. This is in response to Jim's comments here.

In any case, yes Jim, go ahead, dismiss anything you don't really understand by packaging it under the label 'agenda.' I get the fact that you're trying to keep people from making the wrong decision and being "bored" or "disenfranchised" by sub-free living. That's very noble of you, allowing the drunks to figure out which places to avoid. That said, there's no need to dismiss my first-hand accounts as mere embellishments. Perhaps you just never saw the things I saw as a freshman here. We don't know what personalities our new freshmen will have, so we have to cover all our bases. I'll tell you one thing—not all freshmen are of the type that appreciates rampant drinking.

I do know where you lived last year—you lived on a sub-free floor, Koenig 3. That does not entitle you to come up with gross generalizations about substance-free living in general. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200. By your own logic, since you didn't live on a non-sub-free floor, you're not qualified to so much as comment upon life in other dorms. So sit back a minute whilst I fill you in on a few pertinent details.

First off, those are no embellishments I provided earlier. I and many others can attest to these things and provide dozens more examples above and beyond the ones I provided. I cannot stress enough that I do not exaggerate. I can't make things like that up. That was my reality last year. Now, maybe you believe the propaganda the administration feeds you, just like all the other sheep, but here's the deal, buddy—there is an alcohol problem on this campus.

I was in pre-orientation just like you were, my darling Jim. I've been here on campus for five entire semesters straight now—three normal semesters and two summer semesters. I've been here long enough to know that the pretty life we lived during the summer isn't the way things are during the year. Yes, in the summer we're all great buddies, great pals, almost everyone gets along, and the drinking is all in good fun. People suspend their doubts for awhile and make that extra effort to get along because they don't know what it's like here yet. People experiment, and y'know, that's OK. But when you spend an entire year living on a freshman floor, Jim, you get to know what that's like. You didn't spend your entire freshman year here, so you wouldn't know.

I think some drinking in moderation is fine. Moderation meaning every once in awhile when hanging out with some good friends you crack open a cold one and you're happy about that. I accept that as a valid means of socializing. Some people just can't open up and have meaningful conversation until they imbibe some liquor. Whatever. Every campus has alcohol—I'm not naive enough to think that I could possibly escape it.

What I don't wish to accept, however, is the binge drinking that goes on here. Yes, B I N G E D R I N K I N G. That's the name of the game here. Freshmen get into these habits, and far from experimenting and then moderating their behavior once they're another year older and deeper in debt, they become the enablers for the next crop of freshmen. Guess where freshmen on my floor went last year when they were tired of the frats, the alcohol-soaked old dorm scene got old, and it didn't happen to be Thursday? That's right, they visited our dear sophomore suites.

See, the thing is, you assume I had some idea that such things went on before I got here. Your assumption would be wrong. I, as well as many others, had no idea that it would be like this here. Maybe you were lucky enough to hang out with dear university pals while you were still in high school. I come from Florissant, Jim. I was one of about five students who even got accepted to the university in the past half-decade or so. I didn't have anyone to point the way for me and tell me where all the pitfalls were. I've had to find out for myself what a decadent place this can be.

Why don't you just leave then? you might ask. Well, I like the academics here. They're unparalleled in this state, and since I wish to stay close to home, you know as well as I do that there just aren't a lot of options around here. This is my best option, dear Jim. That doesn't mean that I have to shut up or put up.

Further, I like the people here. I've made some good friends. I'm carving out a niche. As both you and Mijra pointed out, it's a good thing when you can find a place where you feel like you belong. We're obviously each well on our way to finding that place.

But Jim, as a tour guide, someone who deals with people, you of all people should understand the fine art of appealing to all different kinds of people. There is a place for people who don't binge drink here at the university, but a lot of times you wouldn't know it. I'm trying to hash out the minutiae of just how bad the problems here can be so we don't go about deluding ourselves that everything here is perfect. 'Oh no! What if the parents see this? What will they think?' The parents will understand a bit more of the truth. I alone won't drive down our rankings, Jim, and devalue our education, I guarantee you that. There are enough skeptics out there like you who simply won't believe my accounts even when they're right before their eyes.

I'm a psych major, Jim, and I've learned enough to know that you can't trust every 'study' that you come across. I have no idea what your methodology was for this 'research paper.' For all I know, your methods were no better than those used by student-newspaper reporters. I can't say, because I haven't read the thing, but I do know that a lot of misconceptions float around on this campus simply because people are willing to delude themselves beyond reason. Perhaps the students you interviewed were deluded by cognitive dissonance. Perhaps they really like drinking. Not everyone does.

I'll leave you with a quote from what you just said:

'Please dont bash my views just because they dont mesh with whatever agenda you have, and just let all the facts be presented.'

I'm game if you are."

3:07 am, December 18, 2003 :: the jablog years

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