A big part of the university life and culture, as well as Australian society in general is drinking.  Before I came to uni, I was aware of drinking, I was aware that people do get drunk sometimes and I was aware that alcoholics existed, I have witnessed it first hand. However the difference between those pre-uni times and arriving at uni was that before I arrived at uni, I only witnessed drinking sparingly, when I arrived at uni, witnessing drinking became a regular occurrence.

My first year was an absolute shocker in regards to witnessing drinking, it felt like my “drinking innocence”, if you will was taken away from me. I learnt about pre-drinking and eventually I would discover that Wednesday night would be uni night where almost everyone would get drunk. During O-Week at Campus East, there is an organised pub crawl where students would go to several Wollongong pubs and drink, everyone would get a free pub crawl shirt, as if it was a uniform. Of course I didn’t go on this pub crawl, in both my first and second year.  Mary, the Manager of Marketview, Keiraview and Graduate House didn’t believe in encouraging drinking, she didn’t forbid it, and even if she did, most of us are over eighteen, so it would be incredibly hard, so Marketview had no O-Week activities that encouraged drinking.

I have no issue with my fellow uni students or anyone else for that matter who drink, but what I have an issue with is that I’m judged for my choice to rarely drink because it’s more common and accepted that uni students drink more than they don’t.  In my first year, I was judged more than ever because no-one really knew me. I was even judged by my friends. One friend in particular, Justine asked me if I didn’t drink because of my religion. I wasn’t offended by this question and it is a fair one to ask, but I did find it sad that the only possible explanation for not following the herd would be religion. I told her no, it’s not because of my religion, it’s because I don’t like alcohol, the only drinks I do like are Raspberry Vodka Cruisers, which are more sugar and soda water than alcohol. Eventually people understood more and stopped asking. I wish I could enjoy alcohol and pubs and clubs and going out, but I don’t have it in me, I never have.

Most of the UOW’s accommodations, if not all do enforce strict alcohol rules. At Campus East, the rules were: no more than nine people in one room playing a drinking game and when exams are on, alcohol is only to be consumed in your room, no glass bottles and if you walked around drunk during exams, you were kicked out. Marketview is a bit stricter, alcohol was only to be consumed in our rooms and no more than three people drunk in a room, although Mary not so much lifted the rule, but expanded it a little so that more people could be in a room, but not as many as nine. I prefer living at Marketview for this reason.

Some students, friends included have perceived me as boring or a fuddy-duddy because I don’t like to drink and I don’t like being around people who are drunk (because you don’t know what people are capable of when they are drunk) and I don’t like that perception, because I’m not trying to be that way, it’s simply how I feel and my choice, just like drinking regularly or getting drunk every now and then is their choice. I respect their choices, even if I don’t agree with or make those choices myself, I just want people to do the same for me.

This column originally appeared on Tertangala and can be found here. 


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