TommieMedia survey explores alcohol use at St. Thomas

Editor’s Note: Throughout the week, TommieMedia will be featuring stories on drinking and  campus partying. Make sure to check out the Perspectives on Partying page for daily updates.

After a celebratory homecoming weekend and with Halloween just around the corner, St. Thomas students are in a festive mood. But with new restrictions such as the social host ordinance and Public Safety keeping drinking in the dorms under control, students are reconsidering their partying habits.

In a TommieMedia survey, St. Thomas students were asked questions about college drinking and partying. Sixty  women and 40 men participated, and most were upperclassmen.

Students weigh in: Is drinking a major issue?

Although 76 percent of respondents said underage drinking is OK, 24 percent said it is an  issue that needs to be addressed.

“Too many kids spend all week waiting to get drunk on the weekend,” sophomore off-campus resident Megan Buelow said. “It has given St. Thomas a terrible reputation as a school that is known for spoiled, drunk rich kids and takes focus off the quality of the academics.”

Other students, such as junior off-campus resident Julie Patton, said their peers have different perspectives on how much of an issue drinking is.

“To me, drinking and partying is not a big issue,” Patton said, “partly because I’m 21 and if I want to drink I can, but I don’t want to.”

Drinking on campus

Several students, including sophomore off-campus resident Steven Bang, do not think on-campus drinking has decreased at all, despite Public Safety’s attempts to curb on-campus parties.

“Drinking in the dorms has definitely not gone down,” Bang said.

Buelow also agreed that drinking in the dorms has not decreased.

“I am sure that more than half of the dorm rooms on this campus have alcohol somewhere, whether the student can legally drink or not,” Buelow said. “From what I hear about Flynn, there are basically parties every night of the week with beer pong and other drinking games.”

Social host affects off campus partying

St. Thomas students who were surveyed split fairly evenly about whether students should be cited for underage drinking; 53 percent of respondents said they should not be cited.

Students also have differing opinions on the social host ordinance’s effect on off-campus parties.

The social host ordinance has affected off-campus parties “only a little,” said senior off-campus resident Felisha Willaert. “People still have parties; they are just more careful about them.”

Bang said he thinks the social host policy has had a great effect on off-campus partying.

“The social host ordinance has helped lower the amount of partying that goes on,” he said. “The price of the ticket scares most people.”

Sophomore off-campus resident Lisa Johnson said she thinks the social host ordinance is too severe.

“Parties are being busted even when they are not out of control,” she said. “I think it is counterproductive to punish responsible students who are hosting a party in a safe environment.”

Junior off-campus resident Christy Gries agreed that the social host ordinance policy is having a negative effect on the community.

“I feel like the ordinance has definitely made people more aware, but not necessarily in a good way,” she said. “It has made people definitely more upset with the city, and perhaps the people in the neighborhood they live in, because the students know these people are the ones who voted for it.”

Students change party habits

With Public Safety policing underage drinking in the dorms and the social host ordinance affecting off-campus party habits, students are seeking alternatives.

Campus organizations, such as STAR, schedule events as alternatives to the party scene. But many students are either unfamiliar with these events or choose not to attend.

“When I lived on campus I never heard of any other events,” junior off-campus resident Andrea Griessel said. “While I think weekend events are great for those who choose not to drink already, I do not think it is going to make drinking students not drink on the weekends.”

Students also think more students are visiting local bars instead of hosting or attending on- and off-campus parties.

“The primary response of many students is to get fake IDs and drink at bars instead,” Willaert said.

But she said this poses more problems.

“This promotes even larger issues such as drinking and driving since there are no bars within a good walking distance,” she said.

Johnson also mentioned the dangers of St. Thomas students traveling to bars and parties on surrounding campuses.

“People are going to party at the U of M and other places across the river because they don’t want to get caught in St. Paul,” she said. “This leads to more people driving off campus to get to parties and this is dangerous.”

Many students agree that although new policies have been implemented, college drinking is not going to be eliminated entirely, whether on- or off-campus. According to the survey, 86 percent of St. Thomas students have consumed alcohol while in college.

“I feel like there are very few things St. Paul or the school can do to change this,” Gries said.

Rebecca Omastiak can be reached at

3 Replies to “TommieMedia survey explores alcohol use at St. Thomas”

  1. The Blue Door pub is a 10-15 minute walk East on Selby; the closest bar to St. Thomas. I wish more students knew about this place, because students wouldn’t then have to drive to places to go have a drink. 

  2. UST students definitely know about the Blue Door Pub… I go every week. It is just not a Thursday night destination. 

  3. I studied abroad twice through UST in Dublin, Ireland and Sydney, Australia. Both countries had drinking ages of 18 and both schools I attended featured bars on campus run by the university. There were certainly nights during Homecoming-type events where drunken students could be found all over campus. However, the great thing about that arrangement was the school could bring in extra security and regulate it themselves through university penalties rather than having those events pour into the surrounding community and having students end up getting minors and being arrested. Many of the interviewees make accurate assessments that higher penalties on and near campus just lead students to make riskier decisions farther away from school. Although that may be what the St. Paul neighborhoods want, it certainly puts St. Thomas students who want to responsibly consume alcohol in a very precarious position.

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