Solo Cup Culture on FSU’s Campus
On Wednesday, Sept. 28 the Gamma Zeta Chapter of Alpha Sigma Tau brought speaker Jake Byczkowski to Frostburg State’s Campus. For the past five years Byczkowski has traveled all around the U.S. giving his presentation to different campuses and trying to evoke a change in the way college students think about drinking. Byczkowski presented Solo Cup Culture: Minimizing the Risks of an Alcohol Soaked Campus Climate to members of all different Greek organizations.
As 2011 Graduate of Ohio State University, Byczkowski had been an active member of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity as well as an employee of RedBull and as a DJ. While attending OSU Byczkowski had an unfortunate experience involving alcohol that ultimately lead to his arrest. After leaving a party on Oct. 16, 2010 where he had just watched OSU lose to the University of Wisconsin, he came across a burning mattress in the middle of a road that others had crowded around. His judgment clouded by what he had been drinking, he decided it would be a great idea to add to the fire with the contribution of his own futon mattress. He stood by and cheered as the flames engulfed it, “I thought I’m the man, this is great [….]”
Law enforcement officers saw Jake carry the mattress to the fire and arrested him with intentions of charging him with arson. If the charges had not later been reduced to disorderly conduct, Byczkowski could have seen 3-10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine, in addition be to being expelled from OSU. Not all found in a similar situation have been that lucky. Now Byczkowski speaks out about factors he calls “Alcohol Related Harm” and “Problematic Drinking.”
“Now, I can’t argue with anyone’s decision to have fun,” he beings as FSU students stare enthralled by the man who had just told a somewhat epic college story. But he believes it is important for college students to understand what drives our drinking culture. “It is some decision they are making while they are intoxicated that leads good nights into bad ones.”
Byczkowski thinks that three key factors influence why college students feel the need to drink excessively, and believes their behavior while drinking is excusable. First is social support. College-aged adults still seek the approval of others, and crave the ability to fit in. If peers say something is all well and good, no one will argue against it. Secondly, we seek thrill and adventure, and drinking provides the possibility of the unknown. Finally, the train wreck. When too much has occurred and the night has gotten away from you the only way to excuse behavior is if we make it into a positive. Comradery is built between friends who have had the chance to say, “Well, we’ve been through it together.”
As of 2010, alcohol poisoning was the 37th cause of deaths in young adults. When surveying the audience, Byczkowski asked what FSU students thought of when they heard the word “alcoholic.” Words like “addict,” “drunk,” and “depressed” rang through Alice Manicur Hall. Byczkowski was adamant that because of our perception of what an alcoholic is, we don’t think that we have problems with the substance. “I know I didn’t,” Jake explains. “I had always thought of an alcoholic as someone who had ruined their lives because that’s what school had taught me.” Byczkowski is steadfast that this mindset needs to change.
To do this he challenges FSU students to do three things: change the way we think abut alcohol related harm, set a universal goal to maintain safety and integrity, and finally address specific concerns that no one can ignore or deny. “We have to build a community less conducive to risk behavior,” by holding everyone accountable for their actions.
AST president Bethany Henson felt Byczkowski’s words left the audience a lot to think about. “He addressed issues that most of us don’t want to talk about or [that we] avoid because we know it could lead to a conversation we don’t want to have.” Other audience members felt Byczkowski was relatable because he “spoke to us like we were equals and didn’t assume we were going to leave the forum and not drink again; [he] just wanted us to think more about our actions and consequences,” AST sister Morgan Cuneo added.