Opinions vary on normal drinking

Robert Burkett

The philosopher Aristotle is notable for many things, from laying the foundation of Western philosophy to establishing many schools of thought we still hold true. Among his accomplishments is the coining of the phrase “everything in moderation,” an idea that is often appropriately paired with alcohol consumption.

However, many students and officials have conflicting views on what exactly is considered moderate or “normal” alcohol consumption.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, drinking in moderation is defined as a single drink for a woman and two drinks for a man over the course of a single day. In order to give context to what the CDC refers to, they list a drink as: 12 ounces of beer, 8 ounces of malt liquor, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of liquor that is 80-proof or higher in content.

“Those numbers are rough estimates,” said Iris Gonzalez, university director of health services. Gonzalez explained a person who drinks in moderation will, in most cases, not see a discernable difference in health condition.

“When consumed responsibly, alcohol can be no more dangerous than any other type of beverage,” said Gonzalez.

Some students, however, have a more liberal definition of moderation.

“I’d say three or four would be [drinking in moderation],” said Brian Dulles, freshman mass media major. Dulles was one of six students interviewed for this story, all of whom echoed the same number.

On the campus at Washburn, the task of monitoring alcohol consumption and prevention falls to the Washburn University Police Department.

“We believe in a philosophy of deterrence, not hiding in bushes to jump out and arrest students here at Washburn,” said Dean Forster, director of university police. Washburn’s official alcohol policy states that any unlawful consumption on campus grounds is prohibited. Exemptions are allowed, but they must be granted by the Board of Regents. Recently, as was reported in the Washburn Review, entitled “Facebook: Friend or Foe?” some students were found in violation of the alcohol policy via photographs obtained via the social networking Web site Facebook. Penalties for breaking policy, according to Washburn University documents, can include suspension, expulsion and notification of parents if the person caught is under 21.

“We try and work with the students to make sure that an incident is a one-time offense,” said Forster. “We want to avoid having to wake up a parent in California at midnight unless it’s absolutely necessary.”

According to Washburn Police awareness report statistics, so far this spring semester there have been seven alcohol referrals and two alcohol-related arrests on campus, as well as 10 liquor law violations. However, in 2008 there were a total of 18 alcohol-related arrests, and only nine in 2007. When comparing statistics in previous years, it becomes clear that there are no trends to these incidents.

“The amount and frequency of arrests really fluctuates from year to year,” said Forster.

Ultimately, it’s inevitable that many students will drink beyond the recommended amount defined by the CDC. However, as past statistics have shown, Washburn is neither trending up or down in terms of alcohol incidents on campus.