If there is anything Southerners understand well, it is a strong drink. This isn't the first time I've tried to explain why so many kids walk around here blacked out. Dean Tim Foster says he has "tracked" the problem very closely, but with all due respect there's only so much one can do to understand a nighttime problem while sitting in an office during daytime hours.

Bowdoin has a problem with "hard alcohol." Students use and abuse their liquor. The prohibition is a failure. Now is the best time to talk about this, since it's so cold outside, and as you are reading this small groups of students are likely congregating and encouraging each other to take shots.

Shots are the problem. The prohibition of liquor does not decrease consumption rates whatsoever. The prohibition does not educate students about liquor. It does have the effect of making liquor a taboo substance. Because of the prohibition, students have gotten into the habit of taking multiple shots in a row. Prohibition is not realistic because it does not come to terms with the fact that most students, especially high-risk drinkers, will get their hands on liquor, one way or another. The prohibition of liquor pushes its use "underground," behind closed and locked doors. As liquor is primarily consumed behind closed doors in large amounts within a short amount of time (to reduce the chance of Security catching users), any chance of liquor being safely consumed is lost.

The proper way to consume liquor is to pour a shot in a glass of ice, then add the particular mixer and garnishes you enjoy. Most students who consume hard liquor are so concerned about stuffing the booze into their backpacks that there isn't any room for "paraphernalia" like club soda, limes, what have you. Carrying a bag of ice is about as big of a giveaway as it gets. Outside of my immediate group of close friends, I have very rarely seen actual beverages poured. I feel many students here don't even know what it's like to enjoy the taste of their liquor, but I could easily be wrong about this. If students are expected to behave and party like responsible adults, they must be treated like responsible adults and taught how much is too much, and what is the proper choice to make with hard liquor.

Drinking being divorced from ritual and ceremony. Ah, yes. Let's go back to my room shall we? Have a couple shots of whiskey to get the night started off right. Sound familiar? I heard it a million times in my first two years here. Saying no would be the wise (and therefore uncouth) thing to do at a party. How about this...seniors and juniors...s **t even professors, can come and have cocktails with students and show them the proper way to have a drink. Make them feel important and dignified and civilized by drinking liquor in delicious recipes while discussing something other than how "f****d up" they are getting. It's almost uncivilized how many students drink liquor, but do not understand how to make a proper mixed drink. Trust me, it doesn't take a bartender's license.

Because of the ban on hard liquor, students must leave parties in order to consume it. I walk into social house parties sometimes and the main halls look like ghost towns invaded by dark lights, smelling like nothing but beer, which is misleading because everybody in the house is taking pulls from a bottle of vodka up in the loft. If tastefully consuming hard liquor became a Bowdoin tradition, and students were educated about it, it's much more likely that students would be making mature, responsible decisions about hard liquor. By education I don't mean classroom mommy lectures. I mean mature discussions that acknowledge the reality that liquor is here to stay. Since liquor is most definitely here to stay, we may as well start talking about the right way to drink it.

Whereas Bowdoin conducts a test about plagiarism for pre-frosh students, other schools with hard drinking problems like Washington and Lee require students to take an online test about hard liquor consumption before they enroll. But, such education must continue once students are on campus.

This all does not even touch on the utter lack of tradition or any real meaning whatsoever behind the parties on campus. As far as I can tell, the best reason to celebrate at a social house party is to honor the house for coming up with a clever theme and/or advertising campaign. At best consumption is a social lubricant to the "hookup scene." (If I were in charge of the social houses I would have a different system. But, that is another discussion.) One thing I can say is that if students were celebrating some age-old tradition that existed on this campus when our parents or grandparents were at Bowdoin—if there were any continuity at all in the College House System—then there might be something else on our minds besides consume, consume, consume...hookup...blackout.

We could have more concerts instead of the canned club beats that resonate from speakers all around us. A final note: education does not mean lack of regulation. Hard liquor could only be allowed in small quantities. This would leave the door open for extra strict policies on excess liquor found at parties.

I care deeply about the safety of students on this campus. It has been a source of genuine concern that the liquor ban has remained throughout my four years here, because I have seen firsthand the effect prohibition has had on students who sate themselves with hard liquor.

I have been written up twice for consuming liquor; I was so used to fixing a nice bourbon drink at home that I'd simply forgotten it was prohibited here. I had fixed some mac 'n' cheese and poured a nice mixed drink with as much alcohol as a regular old Bud Light, and had left the bottle sitting on the kitchen table when Security pranced through. I was punished for drinking liquor the responsible way...twice. Meanwhile students are punishing their bodies without getting found out until they're in the hospital, because they have no education, no experience, no choice but to drink dangerously in private or not drink at all—and we all know that's not going to happen.

Dean Foster says there are legal issues with allowing hard alcohol on campus. I challenge him to show me where the law distinguishes between beer and liquor.

Rutledge Long is a member of the Class of 2010.