Oct 132005
Authors: Mandy Billings

They are tired of hearing about how wasted the kid who sits next to them in biology got last night. The straight-edge students of CSU don't drink, smoke, do drugs or have promiscuous sexual relationships.

"For us, not drinking isn't an effort," said Jen Marski, senior social science education major and straight-edger for the past six years . "We're not giving something up. We just don't want to."

The moral code of the straight-edge movement comes from the lyrics of 1980s hardcore punk band Minor Threat and began as a reaction to the excesses of punk culture.

"Hardcore started off as harder, more intense punk," said Ben Heffley, straight-edge senior psychology and pre-med major said . "Music is a huge part of the straight-edge movement."

While the straight-edge movement is still an influential part of the hardcore scene, people not involved in hardcore have begun adopting the label.

"I started calling myself straight-edge in high school because it's simpler to explain," said Brittnay Reiser, freshman open option major . "I've basically been this way all my life."

For Reiser, the moral aspects of straight-edge are more important than the connection to the hardcore music scene.

"The majority of the random straight-edge kids I've met are into the morals of it. I've always thought of it as a code of values," Reiser said.

Josh Rivera, straight-edge sophomore political science and history major, said he was frustrated with the amount of student drinking at CSU .

"If people think they're meeting people and seeing the real them when they're wasted, it's a joke," Rivera said. "Why can't these people have a good time without having to change who they are?"

Rivera said he was straight-edge throughout high school but started drinking last spring semester to try and fit in.

"It came down to if you wanted to hang out with people, you had to be drinking," Rivera said. "But it came to the point where I saw that everyone around me was doing it to escape."

Rivera said going back to being straight-edge was a freeing experience.

"When I hang out with people, I don't feel like I need to hide or overcome my shyness with drinking," Rivera said. "It's about a pure lifestyle. There's nothing that can be used as an escape from reality because you can't escape from yourself."

While Heffley, Marski, Reiser and Rivera all agreed that drinking is a problem for CSU students, the solution remained unclear.

"The administration makes it seem ridiculous that students wouldn't drink," Heffley said. "Even the police expect that everyone our age drinks."

Marski said when drinking becomes an expected activity for college students, it becomes an accepted problem.

"It's not just friends and students who expect it, it's the whole community," Marski said. "It becomes just something you do in college and maybe you're not normal if you don't."

As a former resident assistant for both Westfall and Parmelee Halls, Marski said she saw many students who believed drinking was as much a part of the college experience as attending classes.

"I've been an R.A. for the past two years, and at least 95 percent of the residents think they need to drink at least four days a week," Marski said.

Reiser, a current resident of Corbett Hall's substance-free floor, said the drinking at CSU was as excessive as she thought it would be.

"I expected to see drunk people coming into the dorms late at night, and I do," Reiser said. "I think things could change if the mainstream media changes the portrayal of college, like getting rid of the 'Animal House' image."

Rivera wasn't sure if there was a viable solution to the drinking problem at CSU.

"There's been a breaking point lately with the legal issues and deaths around campus, but I still hear people joking about the tragedies," Rivera said. "Every single person I know still parties like they did before."

Heffley said encouraging safe alcohol use is important.

"If you drink in moderation with people you know in a safe place, that's responsible," Heffley said. But I don't think most students do it in a safe way."

Reiser said she finds lots of alternative activities to drinking, like going to concerts, movies and hanging out with friends.

"I'm sure you could drink responsibly but any time you drink you're altering your mind – be it one beer to relax or more to get drunk," Rivera said. "You need to find something for yourself that you love to do so you don't need to keep escaping reality."

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