Downing It is Our Choice

The harder we work, the harder we play. If there is ever a good time to learn your limits, it’s now.

Alcohol binge drinking Booze comatose Downing College drinking culture excess Hospital prelash vomit Wine

The spinning room, the slurring words and the conversations you’ll live to regret. We’ve all been there – that hideous moment of realisation that you’ve overdone it. Spending a night with your head in a bucket may not be your finest hour, but it is a rite of passage for any university student.

Which is why Downing’s email, warning students of the dangers of binge drinking, is both patronising and unacceptable.

Debris at The Mahal

Like it or loathe it, heavy drinking is an inescapable part of university life. And it is nothing new – just look at Brideshead Revisited. Even 80 years ago there were smashed students stumbling around college, pre-lashing at lunchtime and vomming in each other’s rooms. The only difference between then and now is the sad decline in the quality of the wine.

And this inherent emphasis on booze is not necessarily a bad thing. If there is ever a good time to learn your limits, it is as a student. Giving your liver (and stomach lining) a workout may not be compatible with a 9am lecture, but ultimately there is nothing stopping you from crawling back to bed.

Granted, drinking to the point of hospitalisation may not be the best way to spend an evening. But I guarantee that the Downing student in question will have learnt a valuable lesson, and it is better she learnt it sooner rather than later. Because being comatose at university will not damage your future prospects. Being comatose at the office party just might.

In this situation, Downing College was wrong to interfere. We are at university, not school. Legally, we are adults and there should be nothing stopping us from stocking up on Basics vodka.

Cambridge is intense – it thrives on pushing its students to extremes. Amongst the essays, all-nighters and Pro Plus pill-popping we have got to find time for a social life. After a day locked up in the UL there is nothing more appealing than a glass of wine. Or a bottle. It’s simple: the harder we work, the harder we play. And no email will change that.