October is National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Month. October is also a fun transition into the fall season. A popular activity that Missouri State University students participate in in October is attending football games and cheering for the Bears. One of the most exciting aspects of college football games are the tailgates that take place beforehand. Tailgates are a fun way to interact with other members of the campus community as well as MSU alumni and create some classic college memories. While tailgating can be a lot of fun, it can also create an environment conducive to safety concerns and dilemmas surrounding campus policies.
Binge drinking is one issue of concern that can occur at tailgates. Participating in binge drinking presents one of the biggest threats to your safety and the safety of other individuals. Binge drinking is defined as “a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 g/dl or above” (CDC, 2019). Although there is some variance between ages and weights, on average, this level of intoxication occurs after males have consumed five or more alcoholic beverages and after females have consumed four or more alcoholic beverages within a two-hour time frame or less (CDC, 2019). While students are out making those gameday memories, it is important to remember the tailgating and alcohol policies in place on campus for the safety of yourself and the campus community.
The tailgating policy here at Missouri State University outlines that during home football games, BearFest Village and Parking Lots 18, 22, and 24 are the only exceptions to the typical alcohol-free campus policy. Special permission from the university president must be obtained in advance for alcohol to be allowed in other areas on campus during gamedays and no open containers are allowed outside of the designated areas. Alcohol consumption at the tailgates may begin no earlier than 3 hours before the event and must end at the start of the game. The following items are not permitted whatsoever: hard liquor, glass containers, kegs or other containers with a capacity larger than 1 gallon, dispensing of mixed alcoholic concoctions, beer bongs or other accelerated drinking devices, or alcohol sales by someone other than a pre-approved campus vendor. As always, alcohol consumption for individuals with no identification and/or for those under the legal drinking age of 21 is prohibited.
The Missouri State University Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities outlines the campus policy on alcohol in Section 4.11. It prohibits the “Use, possession, or distribution of alcoholic beverages or alcohol paraphernalia (as defined in the Code) except as expressly permitted by the law and University regulations, or public intoxication on University Premises.” Meaning, this policy prohibits any alcohol use, possession, or distribution while on campus as well as public intoxication on campus, even if the alcohol had been consumed at a secondary location. If found responsible for an alcohol policy violation, the recommended minimum consequences for a first-time offense are outlined by the Code. This policy is in place for the overall wellbeing of our students.
During National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Month, here at MSU we want to remind students about the dangers of irresponsible alcohol consumption. The use/misuse of alcohol can impact a student’s academic performance, relationships, and overall physical and mental health. Research shows a strong negative correlation between grade point average (GPA) and frequency of alcohol consumption. Meaning, as the nights per week that a student consumes alcohol increases, GPA decreases (Makongho, 2018). A low GPA can result in being placed on academic probation, has the potential to disqualify a student from receiving certain scholarships or financial aid assistance, and can hinder a student from receiving internship opportunities, acceptance to graduate programs, or even future employment. Drinking alcohol has the potential to create conflicts in relationships due to choices made or things said while under the influence, withdrawal from social situations, dropped responsibilities, or changes in mood/personality. Lastly, consuming alcohol can take a toll on a student’s physical and mental health. Consequences of drinking alcohol could be memory loss, loss of consciousness, impaired reaction time and decision-making abilities, physical injuries, alcohol poisoning, depression, and even various cancers or liver disease (CDC, 2022).
In conclusion, it’s important to remember these facts and policies when going to an event where alcohol may be present, such as tailgating at a football game throughout this fall season. If you or someone you know struggles with alcohol dependency, please contact SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357. This is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service. If ever in an alcohol-related emergency, call 911 or University Safety at 417-836-5509.
About Alcohol. (2021) Center for Disease Control (CDC). https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/about.htm
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, April 14). Drinking too much alcohol can harm your health. Learn the facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved October 12, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm
Makongho, A.-M. (2018, March 30). The Effect of Alcohol Use on Academic Performance of College Students. University of Wisconsin-Platteville. Retrieved October 12, 2022, from https://minds.wisconsin.edu/bitstream/handle/1793/78353/MakonghoAnne-Marie.pdf?sequence=3