The University planned to hold a Welcome Week event Friday at the Zei Club – a downtown dance club that draws a significant GW crowd most weekends. GW advertised shuttle service from campus to the club, which would have admitted all GW students ages 18 and older for free and served alcohol to those over 21.
But something happened on the way to the Zei Club.
Late last week, GW administrators sent word that because several freshmen were sent to the hospital in their first days at GW to be treated for excessive alcohol use, it would be inappropriate for the University to sponsor a “club night.” Welcome Week planners put together a night at XandO coffeehouse in Dupont Circle instead, and because GW bought out the caf? for the evening, alcohol was not served.
By canceling “club night,” the University protected itself from the kind of publicity generated at several other colleges last year when a mix of alcohol, students and irresponsible drinking ended in death and serious injury.
GW made the right decision when it pulled its sponsorship of Friday’s Zei Club event. After several freshmen were hospitalized for excessive drinking in the first three days of school, it would have been unwise for the University to put its name on an event at which freshmen and alcohol could have mixed.
But students will drink themselves into a dangerous stupor even if the University does not sponsor alcohol-related events. Last week, freshmen were required to attend a meeting on alcohol use, where administrators spoke about the dangers of binge drinking. Events like that are a step in the right direction.
It is ridiculous to think GW students will not touch a drop of alcohol until they are 21. Alcohol is part of the college experience. But when it is handled irresponsibly, problems arise – assault, rape, hospitalization, encounters with law enforcement officers.
Students often boast about the amount of alcohol they had the night before, or the wild time they had stumbling through the city on their way home. But few students mention what it is like to wake up in a hospital with a tube down their throat, having their stomachs pumped.
If GW is serious about changing students’ attitudes toward reckless drinking, those are the types of lessons it must teach. Canceling an event at a club will protect the University legally, but administrators must now look for ways to teach students to drink responsibly.