Throughout my career as a UCSB student I have developed a bit of a habit of picking up the Daily Nexus before my first class and attempting to complete the crossword by the end of my school day. It’s a ritual I enjoy that keeps me centered and gives me something to do during my breaks or during a particularly dull biology lecture. The crosswords are often found near the end of the paper, often adjacent to the Opinion section and so I frequently find myself reading the opinions of my fellow Gauchos. That is, I used to.
In the last few weeks I find that I can’t look at the Opinion page without reading some tripe about drugs or drinking. We even have columnists on these subjects. I realize that there are valid reasons for this upsurge of letters discussing these topics: drug wars, contention over the legalization of marijuana, Floatopia 2, etc. However, I find the frequency with which these topics are discussed to be nothing short of disturbing and disappointing. I have to ask myself, do the students at one of the best schools in the country, even in the world, have nothing better to do than to discuss the semantics of drugs and alcohol? Is substance abuse so much a part of our lives that we are unable to come up with anything else to talk about?
I would be remiss if I said that my four years as a UCSB student have been dry, or have been free of recreational drug use. I know that young people feel that they have a certain inalienable right to abuse their bodies and screw around, and maybe it’s true. We’re certainly better off abusing substances now while our parents are paying for everything and our University is babysitting us than 10 years from now in the office. But isn’t there more to the life of a UCSB student than drugs and alcohol?
I was so refreshed when I read the Opinion piece last week about the Farmer’s Market. I would love to see more pieces like it in the future. Perhaps a review of the Museum of Art downtown, or a detailed account of outdoor activities available for students for free, or a political piece or an environmental piece. The Opinion page is speckled with letters like these, but lately they are more the exception than the rule.
If you want to make the most of your life and your time at UCSB by all means, enjoy I.V. and the lifestyle it has to offer. You will never find another place like it in your life. But maybe instead of getting trashed and baked every night you might try picking up a classic novel, learning a new language, watching a foreign film or making sushi with friends. You might be surprised just how rewarding and fulfilling a night of sober fun can be. Having fun doesn’t always mean getting drunk, and when you wake up the next morning feeling rested, healthy and satisfied with bettering yourself you might end up wondering why you ever get wasted at all.