How I Celebrated My 21st Birthday on My Dry Campus
How I Celebrated My 21st Birthday on My Dry Campus

Celebrating Your 21st Birthday on a Dry Campus: Yes, It’s Possible

Just when you thought you’d read it all, here’s a piece about college students not drinking.  
March 1, 2016
8 mins read

The Life of a 21-Year Old on a Dry Campus

Just when you thought you’d read it all, here’s a piece about college students not drinking.

By Mykaela Alvey, Anderson University

Turning 21 is a rite of passage, because it’s the age at which you finally start to feel like a real adult.

Many of your newfound feelings of maturity stem from the fact that turning 21 means you can finally drink legally. Whoa, you’re such an adult! However, shocking as this might be, not all 21st birthday parties are created equal.

I go to Anderson University, which is proudly a dry campus. As a result, alcohol is banned on the grounds, regardless of your age or intention to consume it elsewhere.

I’ll give everyone a minute to process that.

I know the concept of a dry campus probably sounds like a modern form of torture or a severe infringement on your rights as an American, but while an alcohol-free college experience may seem backwards to a lot people, in my case it most certainly is not.

I am now finishing up the second semester of my junior year, and I, along with many of my friends, have recently turned 21. What does celebrating your 21st birthday look like on a dry campus? Well, it starts and ends with a whole bunch of not drinking.

I can just imagine the full body shudders, dramatic eye rolls and the comments under your breath about how stupid that is. You’re right in a lot of ways—sobriety can be annoying at times.

Isn’t it my right to be able to drink if I’m the right age? Can someone really tell me that I’m not allowed to drink?

Despite the legal technicalities, the teetotalism is not all bad. I knew what I was choosing when I committed to spending four years here. I may not agree with the entire concept, but I was willing to substitute alcohol for the other great benefits of the university.

So, when it came to celebrate my 21st birthday, I wasn’t pining for a traditional night out at the bars. In fact, my birthday wasn’t really wild in any regard. I went to all of my classes, then went to work for a few hours, met my parents for a quick, not fancy, dinner and in the evening, I went out and got ice cream with a few of my friends. Dang, I am one crazy college student!

Now, this isn’t to say that people on dry campuses don’t still go out and drink. They definitely do. And honestly, if you’re 21, I don’t really care what you do.

But the truth for me is that I never really cared about drinking, which is probably an “uncool” thing to admit, I know. What 21-year old doesn’t care about alcohol? Honestly, I just never saw the “cool factor” in it.

Growing up, I figured I would drink a little bit when I was older, but I just never cared that much. So, even though I couldn’t drink on my 21st birthday, I didn’t really feel like I was missing out on anything. Even if I hadn’t chosen a dry campus, I never really planned on going and getting drunk anyway.

I’m very aware that there are a lot of people reading this right now who probably think I’m abnormal for having this opinion.

However, besides my general opinion of alcohol, I also think there are personal benefits to not being able to drink. For one, I actually remembered my birthday. I don’t mean to lump everyone into one category, but most 21st birthdays aren’t exactly known for self-control.

On that same note, I also didn’t have to wake up the next day with a hangover, which I thoroughly enjoyed. My birthday was on a Wednesday. I don’t even want to think about what going to classes would have been like if I had been hungover. No thank you!

Also, think of all of the money I’m saving! College isn’t exactly cheap, especially private universities. If I can eliminate all of the extra cost of alcohol, I’m saving a pretty decent chunk of money. Besides, if we’re being honest, I think I’d rather spend that money on Qdoba.

The truth is, most people don’t get the whole “dry campus” concept, and I’m okay with that. Yeah, it’s a little strange and it probably seems backwards and wrong to a lot of people. I am the legal age to drink, shouldn’t I be allowed to? Do you even have the right to punish me for drinking if I’m 21? After all, this is America!

But the beauty of a dry campus is that if people don’t like the prohibition, they can simply choose not to come here. I love hearing other students complain about the rule and the fact that the university shouldn’t be able to take away our right to drink. People like that are hilarious to me. They chose to come here. No one twisted their arm and forced them to attend the university. Whatever their reason, they committed to this place. The university does nothing to hide the fact that they don’t allow you to drink, so why would anyone come if they wanted to?

So, yeah, my school is a little different than most. Maybe you think that’s weird, maybe you think that’s awesome, maybe you think it’s unconstitutional and a breach on your liberties. I really don’t know. But frankly, it doesn’t really matter.

I also acknowledge that admitting to my no-alcohol lifestyle probably makes me look pretty lame to a lot of people. After all, drinking is cool, right? Well, I say cool is overrated.

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