Binge or Winge?

MAX DURSTON weighs up the pros and cons of binge drinking during May Week.

Alcohol binge drinking Cambridge University Garden Party May Ball May Week Wyverns

May Week is upon us and with Garden Parties, May Balls and all the general boozing inbetween, the average student’s alcohol intake will have sky-rocketed in correlation with the soaring sales of Pimm’s at Sainsbury’s. But whilst May Week is all good fun for most people concerned, the levels of binge drinking that take place can have serious health risks in both the short- and long-term. With this in mind, should we Cambridge students rethink our end of year activities, or is our week of drunken revelry fine and dandy?

We are all, supposedly, intelligent people: we understand the risks of drinking too much, but we still do it. The media are always keen to target Cambridge students for their overindulgence during May Week: a headline from last year’s Telegraph read ‘Students shame Cambridge University on Suicide Sunday’, after the Wyverns’ notorious Garden Party ended with many guests lying unconscious with a blazer draped over their head or vomiting in the shrubbery on the way back into town. Such levels of so-called debauchery take place in universities across the country every day of the week, but it seems that some people take umbrage with the mere idea that students at Cambridge University would ever reduce themselves to such drunkenness.

Why then do people, Cambridge students included, not adhere to the government’s recommended weekly allowance of alcohol? A man’s maximum weekly total is 21 units of alcohol, whilst a woman’s is a meagre 14 units. One popular definition of binge drinking considers the consumption of more than half the weekly units in one session as constituting a binge. If this is the case, then every time most people go out they are binge drinking: 3 large glasses of wine would be enough to push a woman over the edge of reasonable drinking into the realms of binging. If we were to stick to the recommended number of units each time we drank then we would never get drunk. And the crux of the matter is: getting drunk is fun. Not so drunk that you pass out in a pool of your own vomit, but drunken enough that you are able to relax and have a good time. I would rather not drink alcohol at all than drink only the recommended allowance. Even those people who do not technically binge drink are not drinking purely for taste: they still enjoy the slight feeling of light-headedness and warmth that seeps over them as they polish off the last drops of that glass of wine or pint of beer.

To be quite honest, there are plenty of things that taste nicer than alcoholic drinks, which is why so many cocktails use fruit juices to disguise the taste. The juice on its own would taste equally as nice, so what reason is there to add alcohol? Absolutely none at all, other than to get a little bit tipsy, which is all well and good in my opinion: we only live once; why not make the most of what life offers in order to enjoy ourselves a little bit more?

Taking into consideration the amount of work that students here have to undertake, alongside the fact that this heavy workload is condensed into a term far shorter than at most other universities, are we not entitled to go a little bit crazy at the end of the year? No-one is suggesting that years of non-stop binge drinking is a reasonable lifestyle choice. We should all take our last chance to get wasted before we are shoved kicking and screaming into the real world where the reality of being back to work at 9am on Monday will stop us making every Sunday Suicide Sunday.