Commentary: What is the point of partying on Richard Avenue?

In my four years at Shippensburg University, the fascination with Richard Avenue still strikes me as odd. 

What are the factors surrounding getting so drunk that some students barely make it home that makes it so appealing? Is it the thought of being carried away in an ambulance that really seals the deal, or is it simply something to do? 

First-year students are “warned” not to spend their entire college lives on Richard Avenue, but does a simple warning really stop them? This is the first time most students are away from their parents in a situation that is separate from their parents’ view, which allows them to act out in ways they probably would not have at home. 

“Research disentangles peer pressure into three dimensions: active offers of alcohol, modeling of others’ drinking, and perceived drinking norms,” according to a 2001 study by Brian Borsari and Kate Carey. 

Simplified, the study said peer pressure in college students drives them in ways they would not normally act. 

For example, if someone hands you a drink, taking it may make you look cool or mature, but not taking it could have negative connotations. 

When those same students see others drinking, they notice that if they are not, there are more negative connotations. 

Finally, they are surrounded by so many drinking norms that it changes the perception of first-year students to think that this is what college is about, and just like high school, they perform tasks and behaviors that allow them to fit in with the crowd. 

Upperclassmen waste no time luring first-year students to the party scene, and seeing it happen time after time is disheartening. 

Being in an environment that has so many people makes it hard to grasp what is happening, but add being intoxicated and impaired to that equation and you’re looking at a disaster. 

So the next time a first-year student, or someone who appears to be underage shows up a party, legally you have a duty to turn them away. But will your morals be sound enough to do so? 

First-year students are impressionable, and holding their hands is not an option-- but deciding whether your party is more important than turning away someone before they end up in the police briefs of The Slate during their first year at SU is. 

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