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The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

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The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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First-year guard Aaryn Battle (1) dribbles the ball during Thursday evening’s game against Wake Forest in the Petersen Events Center.
Pitt women’s basketball falls back into their old habits, fall to Wake Forest 65-50
By Sara Meyer, Staff Writer • 9:10 am

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First-year guard Aaryn Battle (1) dribbles the ball during Thursday evening’s game against Wake Forest in the Petersen Events Center.
Pitt women’s basketball falls back into their old habits, fall to Wake Forest 65-50
By Sara Meyer, Staff Writer • 9:10 am

Satire | The Terrible Twenties: Alcoholism and Academia

Satire+%7C+The+Terrible+Twenties%3A+Alcoholism+and+Academia
Annika Esseku | Contributing Editor

Recent observations on my part have revealed a shocking fact. More college students than ever are alcoholics. And if they’re not, they’re on their way — whether through substance abuse regulated to the weekend or whatever else kids are doing these days that they don’t want their parents to find out about. Through my investigation of this phenomena, I took two specific cases into investigation. One, a model student new to adulthood, and the other a once-bright, once-student — fallen off the path to greatness, or, at the very least, graduation. 

Perched in the ivory tower known as Nordenberg Hall lives Colin Serkin. Having recently turned 21 as a young man with a strict honor code oddly in compliance with the law, Serkin tried alcohol for the first time just three weeks ago on his birthday. He claimed that it was just for his birthday and that he wasn’t a drinking guy, and this was a one-time thing, so his friends had better enjoy it. 

Since that day, he’s gotten drunk five entire times. He relayed to me that in movies, it always seemed like people were drunk after one or two beers. And if that character was underage? Forget it! Three sips and they were wasted — starting fires, having premarital sex and driving drunk, in most cases. Next to these characters he grew up watching, Serkin felt like a god because he was doubling his drinking record almost every time he drank. Six became 12 became he lost count became 16 became eight with less water. And still no throwing up, no blackouts and only one hangover from the time he thought he’d be fine with no water. He felt on top of the world in those moments. And then the guilt set in. 

Serkin confided to me that he had always told himself that he wasn’t “the kind of person who got drunk. During the weekend… or otherwise. I always said, ‘I’m high on life,’” he said, muttering, perhaps hoping I wouldn’t hear that last part. I asked what he meant by “the kind of person.” He sighed like this was a whole annoying issue even though he had agreed to this interview days ago, completely due to his own free will. I initially contacted him after seeing him partying at a bar, struggling to ask the bartender for a simple drink order, but throwing back shot after shot like a complete beast, in my journalistic opinion. 

“Oh, I don’t know, come on. You know! Like, I didn’t want to be — I don’t want to be an alcoholic. And I always moralized drinking as, like, a thing bad people did. Which I now realize was a gross generalization. But…” He hesitated, as if looking for his words. I, in the throes of pre-finals-week homework, hurried him up. “But???” “But… I like drinking! It’s not disrupting my schoolwork, and I’m not going overboard, at least as far as I can tell. And yeah, it’s my friends, we would’ve had fun anyway. It’s just, I don’t know, it’s just pretty fun to hang out with my friends! I’m really only doing it socially. I’m not going to apologize for that, you know? Besides, you know what they say: ‘It’s not alcoholism until you graduate!’” 

I was waiting for him to say that phrase. “It’s not alcoholism until you graduate.” Catchy, it is not, but certifiably correct, it is. Or at least, so many students think. If you Google it, you can even get a giant tapestry with that adage printed on it, under a photo of an assortment of alcoholic beverages. It’s about as ubiquitous to the college experience as football games or “freshman fleas,” as upperclassmen have taken to calling the fleas that allegedly “randomly” appear every year when the freshmen move into the dorms. All that to say, this quote, in conjunction with my next interviewee, are what inspired this entire exposé. 

Wesley Richards was a seventh-year senior LCJS major before his parents stopped paying his tuition. If committing to the bit was what it took to win an Oscar, Richards would be Charlie Chaplin, or Jake Gyllenhaal, in which he definitely deserved an Oscar but would not receive one despite that. Richards either really likes alcohol or has some really unresolved issues. And though I’d like to say that he’s just a great dude who really likes intoxicating beverages, after meeting him, I really think that we’ve got an “unresolved issues” guy here. 

Richards, as a very privileged person who doesn’t want to admit to his drinking problem, decided to prolong graduating as much as possible by slacking off and failing his classes so that he’d have to retake them. And, as someone with an established drinking problem — though he likes to call it a “drinking solution” — he hardly even had to try to fail. He was already close with all the classes he had slept through at the beginning of the semester for normal, average student reasons. Then, with only one class required to graduate, his parents stopped paying his tuition, and Richards got what he always wanted. He’s not an alcoholic, and now, with his logic, he will never be an alcoholic. Because he’s just a little guy. And he’s never going to graduate. And it’s not alcoholism until you graduate. 

Much to consider. Maybe they should repeal the 21st Amendment. And the 19th, while they’re at it. Maybe they should lower the drinking age to 18. Like Europe. Maybe I should go be a lighthouse keeper. Drink sea water, party with mermaids, whatever it is lighthouse keepers do to occupy themselves in their lighthouses. Maybe, as a new 21-year-old, I should go get trashed this weekend and laugh and congregate and drink more vodka than a kid should be able to and feel so fine the next day. Or I’ll stay in watching television programs while I do my laundry. Write a screenplay. Finish a long, almost empty carton of orange juice. Toss some champagne in there. Mimosa Monday! I’m kidding. Unless I’m not. Check the dean’s list at the end of the semester to find out, I suppose. 

Alaina McCall writes things. They would rather be a lighthouse keeper than do whatever they’re doing now. You can reach them at [email protected] 

About the Contributor
Alaina McCall, Staff Columnist
Alaina McCall is an English Writing and Film Production double major. When they grow up, they would like to write sitcoms, but will probably settle for writing names on coffee cups. Feel free to slide in with your own jokes to [email protected]