A drink too far

Jam of the week: “River Flows In You” by Yiruma

Over the weekend, I, along with many other Iowans, enjoyed the Hawkeye football season opener versus Northern Illinois University. As many others also did, I enjoyed a couple drinks while watching the game with my family. The mood in the room was probably happier than most in Iowa, with my dad, a Northern Illinois alumnus, feeling victorious after the Huskies squeaked out a win.

Many of the same feelings, excitement, joy and of course, inebriation were felt to different degrees at Kinnick Stadium. On the higher end of that inebriation was a 22-year-old University of Iowa student that has become well known by two names: her Twitter name, @Vodka_samm, and the “world’s drunkest college student.” She was arrested at the stadium after trying to run onto the field. After her arrest, a blood-alcohol level was clocked at 0.341. To put that in perspective, the Iowa Public Radio program “River to River” noted that a blood-alcohol level of 0.35 can stop an individual’s breathing.

While dangerous drinking practices among college students are certainly not rare, especially at U. of I., which the Princeton Review named the top party school in the nation for 2013. The situation further developed into a spectacle when the student took to Twitter after her arrest and told the world how proud she was of her body’s ability to remain functional under the effects of extreme alcohol intake. She tweeted, “I’m going to get .341 tattooed on me because its so epic.”

The story of this student was picked up by many news outlets, from blogs like Deadspin to others including the New York Post and more. I’ve already managed to find a T-shirt on the internet featuring a photo of the student, wearing sunglasses and flipping the bird with her Twitter name and several hashtags including “YOLO,” that’s “You Only Live Once” for those of you lucky enough to not know what that means, and her blood-alcohol level.

Following the incident, her Twitter account has been deleted. While the incident garnered the student thousands of new Twitter followers, the account’s deletion was probably one of the wiser things to come out of this ordeal. Still, Samantha Goudie’s name is widely visible on the internet and is a good reminder that college antics can come back to haunt someone especially when this story is just a Google search away.

The single incident has brought a lot of discussion about the nature of college drinking culture and beyond. Of course, now we get to the point in every such incident where the specter of blame seeks to be assigned. Does this happen because so many movies have tried to copy the success of “Animal House?” Is alcohol abuse in college simply youthful rebellion and experimentation? Is the designation of “party school” a self-sustaining engine, bringing more and more people wishing to drink heavily? There’s a ghost of a chance that the issue will be settled at all and certainly won’t anytime soon. An editorial from “The Daily Iowan” noted that this incident, while unique, was hardly uncommon. More than 100 citations and more than 20 arrests occurred during the U. of I. season opener against Iowa State University.

The cause of such incidents remains shrouded as does the solution. However I believe the clearest solution is that students at universities must take responsibility for the drinking culture on campus themselves. Parents can try to instill moderation and caution in their children. Institutions can offer resources to try and help students, such as the alcohol awareness course at U. of I. But, when it comes down to it, it’s the students themselves that have to foster their own culture and the current one has proven itself too dangerous to continue.