WILLIMANTIC, CT (10/31/2017) Written by Jordan Corey
An estimated 88,000 people die each year from alcohol-related causes in the United States, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. College students account for approximately 1,825 of these deaths. To stress the negative effects of alcohol abuse, Eastern Connecticut State University held the "Alcohol Monologues" on Oct. 25.
Mimicking the "Vagina Monologues" - an episodic play by Eve Ensler that addresses women's issues such as sexual experiences, body image and reproduction - the "Alcohol Monologues" was composed of anonymous stories read aloud by students. The stories conveyed the different, and serious ways that alcohol can have an impact.
The testimonies were written by students of Nanette Tummers, kinesiology and physical education professor at Eastern, who collaborated with Eastern's Sandra Rose-Zak, coordinator of the Office of Wellness Education, to bring the event to campus. "We invite you to consider the effects of alcohol in your own lives," Rose-Zak said in her introduction to the program.
With brutal honesty, the nameless narratives covered a range of alcohol-driven incidences. While a handful of the stories incorporated humor - one story recounted getting arrested in a Fred Flintstone costume on Halloween - many were depressing and emphasized the consequences that come with drinking too much.
A recurring theme, for example, was the recollection of sexual assault. Multiple students wrote of waking up in bed with another person and no memory of what happened. Others remembered everything, conscious of being taken advantage of in a vulnerable state. Somebody even addressed concerns that they had administered unwanted sexual advances, drunkenly kissing people at a party, according to their friends. "I was a little scared," the student said.
Another common issue was violence, with "monologues" coming from the points of view of victims and perpetrators alike. At the age of 15, one student was jumped by a group of intoxicated people and stabbed, and another wrote of punching somebody in the face when he should have walked away from the confrontation.
Other points brought to light were feelings of social isolation in those who choose not to drink; embarrassing behavior when under the influence; legal and financial repercussions; familial disconnects; lack of academic success; strain on romantic relationships; mental health complications; and in severe cases, fatality.
Rose-Zak herself presented an account describing a woman whose son died at college as a result of binge drinking in a fraternity house. The woman went to the school after receiving the devastating call at 8 a.m. While the idea of viewing her son's body was difficult enough, the reality was unsettling. "What she didn't expect to see," Rose-Zak read, "was the word written across his forehead: 'loser.'" His fraternity brothers had labeled him after he passed out, partying on, unaware that he would never wake up again.
About Eastern Connecticut State University:
Eastern is the state of Connecticut's public liberal arts university, serving more than 5,400 students annually at its Willimantic campus and satellite locations. In addition to attracting students from 163 of Connecticut's 169 towns, Eastern also draws students from 20 other states and 29 other countries. A residential campus offering 39 majors and 65 minors, Eastern offers students a strong liberal art foundation grounded in an array of applied learning opportunities. Eastern has been awarded "Green Campus" status by the Princeton Review seven years in a row. For more information, visit www.easternct.edu.