JanPlan: Full Cups, Empty Wallets
Despite the wide range of courses and recreational opportunities offered to those on the Hill during JanPlan, a recent poll conducted by the Echo shows that students also use the month as a time to consume more alcohol. The amount of money spent on alcohol and the time devoted to its consumption has seen a tremendous increase during this period of a month relative to the normal semester. Despite this trend though, only two alcohol-related hospitalizations occurred during the month.
The Echo conducted a student poll toward the end of the first semester of the 2010-11 academic year surveying students about the amount of money they spend on drugs and alcohol. As noted in the December 1, 2010 Echo article, “Alcohol and drug purchases take toll on students’ wallets,” “18 out of 24 students surveyed, (75 percent) from a range of class years, reported buying alcohol every week.” In the same poll, “33 percent of students who claimed to buy alcohol spend $5-$10 each week, and two percent of students said they spend more than $40 per week on hard alcohol and beer.” In the more recent student poll the Echo conducted, 39 out of 45 students surveyed (87 percent) from a range of class years reported buying alcohol every week of JanPlan. Of these 39 students, half reported spending between $10-15 per week. Additionally, 11 percent of the students who reported buying alcohol each week reported spending between $30-$50 on alcohol consistently.
“I spent about $80 on alcohol per week every week of JanPlan, whereas during the regular academic semester I spend about $30 per week,” an anonymous junior said.
Other students commented on their dwindling funds during this period. “I was in shock to look at my bank account at the end of the month to find that I had spent $327 dollars over the course of the month,” an anonymous sophomore said. “I usually try to keep my spending to an absolute maximum of $50 per week.”
One female first-year even altered her drinking habits during the month in order to save money. “The decision to drink more hard alcohol during JanPlan was not one of defiance, it was a financial one,” she said. “It is no secret that people don’t drink because they love the taste of alcohol; people drink to feel the effect. Hard alcohol gets you to the place you want to be faster and for less money than beer would.”
Another first-year reported that doing some spring-cleaning after JanPlan was a “sobering experience.” She reported throwing away four handles (1.5 liter bottles) and 9 “fifths” (750 ml bottles), which represented a total of about $300 worth of alcohol consumed by her and a group of about seven other people over the course of the month.
According to a representative at local retailer Jokas’ Discount Beverage, the frequency at which students from the College purchase alcohol during January is noticeably higher than it is during other months of the school year. “During January I see Colby students coming in on Tuesday nights buying four cases of beer, and then see the same faces come in on Wednesday buying four more; this is just not the case during the regular academic semester,” a Jokas’ employee said. “I see kids come in on Friday afternoons buying in much smaller quantities.”
Thus, “with such a noticeable rise in alcohol consumption, [we would] expect to see a proportional rise in alcohol related hospitalizations. However, there were only two hospital visits due to alcohol during the entire month of January,” Senior Associate Dean of Students Paul Johnston said.
Still, one senior said, “I definitely saw people a lot more intoxicated a lot more frequently during JanPlan. There were far more than two people who I personally thought needed some sort of medical attention.”
However, while drinking was rampant on campus as a whole during the month of January, certain groups of students chose not to hop on the bandwagon. “There are so many opportunities to drink during JanPlan. It is not about raging every night, it’s about getting a nice buzz on and enjoying it. You are not on a time crunch to get it all out in one night,” one senior said. “I think that this mentality leads to less binge drinking and dangerous situations that lead to hospitalizations.”
As a sophomore who took an economics course during the month said, “I think [alcohol consumption] has a lot to do with what type of course you are taking. Personally, I found myself going out maybe once a week because I was swamped with work and usually exhausted. I preferred to use my weekends as a time to catch up on sleep and reading for class.”
Others viewed JanPlan as a time to turn over a new leaf. A sophomore male who went to the hospital during the fall semester as a result of his over-consumption of alcohol decided to abstain from drinking completely during the month. “I learned some hard lessons during my first semester. Going to the hospital woke me up to the reality of self-regulation,” he said. “I chose to not drink during JanPlan and I was surprised to see just how much my alcohol consumption affected my academic performance during the first semester.”
However, one first-year female, who opts not to drink at all, said that the College offered few nighttime activities during January for those who don’t want to consume alcohol. “During JanPlan I found myself watching a lot of movies and hanging out with some friends before they all [went] out for the night,” she said. “I really wish that SPB put forth more options for people who choose not to drink, especially during JanPlan.”