PAIGE LISTON | OPINION COLUMNIST
After waiting for what seems like forever, this weekend signals the highly anticipated beginning of spring break.
Ah, spring break, that beautiful, if brief, period during a college student’s life when one can unwind and relax, preferably somewhere beautiful and on a beach.
Spring break is often viewed as a rite of passage for most college students, an event that everyone must take part in at least once during one’s college years.
We have all seen movies in which spring break is depicted as one giant, exciting party.
Who wouldn’t be excited to hang out with all one’s best friends under the hot sun, socialize constantly, meet new people and take a break from the boring routine of going to class every day?
Spring break is a time of zero stress and no worries, right?
Dr. Eric Collins, a psychiatrist who specializes in treating addiction, says spring break is not all fun and games. There are serious dangers when thousands of college students let loose for one week.
“Binge drinking is probably one of the most concerning activities that college students engage in while on spring break,” Collins said in a Forbes article. “It is always on the minds of parents who ultimately know that it goes on.
One study conducted by the American College of Health discovered that the average male drinks 18 drinks per day during spring break and the average female drinks up to 10.
This is well above the safe level of alcohol consumption.
In reality, we are all college students, and we all drink or will at least come into contact with people drinking at some point during our lives. But it is frankly hazardous to our health to be naïve about the dangers of spring break.
It is important for spring-breakers to be aware of their surroundings, stay in groups and not leave their friends.
Sophomore Rachel Valentine plans to go to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with her friends, and she is well aware of the need to stick together.
“I am the most paranoid person there is,” Valentine said. “So I will for sure stay in a group the entire week and keep an eye on my friends. Also, I am bringing my pepper spray.”
I am all for making unforgettable memories with your friends in a fun setting, but as we all know, the more alcohol consumed, the less equipped people are to make coherent decisions.
Bringing pepper spray is not a bad idea.
Butler’s Assistant Chief of Police Andrew Ryan said spring break activities can bring a lifetime of positive memories, but we need to remember to be responsible with our choices.
“Don’t let yourself fall prey to those individuals who would take advantage of the situation, and focus on making good choices,” Ryan said. “Remember to be responsible if you choose to drink, and never drink from open sources like punch bowls, pitchers or tubs.”
For years, my dad has drilled into my head that I should never drink from open sources, accept a drink from a stranger or leave my cup sitting somewhere and then come back to it later. I never think that my cup would be the one someone slips a drug into, but it could happen to anyone.
Ryan also said it is important to get past the “hook-up hype.”
“Be aware of the hype about our hook-up culture. Not everyone is hooking up,” Ryan said. “Know what consent is and respect it for all forms of intimacy.”
A survey conducted by the McKinley Health Center at the University of Illinois showed that almost half of the men and women who had sex over spring break while under the influence regretted the experience.
Spring break is glorified in the movies, and I think people put pressure on themselves to have a week as crazy as all the hype, but this is not safe.
No matter what week it is, it is always vital to hold your values high and keep your safety and the safety of your friends at the highest of importance.
Everyone deserves a fun, exciting week full of different experiences you might not have encountered otherwise, but I think it is crucial for college students to know the facts about spring break so that they are well prepared in order to maximize the experience to its fullest potential.