Published February 23, 2005 | Issue: Spring 2005
When Catherine Welch '05 returned from studying in Nepal, she felt more aware than ever that college life included two types of drinking: too much or none at all. "I experienced a different culture where it was natural to have a glass of wine or a beer with supper if you so chose," she said. She recalled from childhood seeing adults drinking small amounts of alcohol on occasion and asked, "Isn't there a third option here we're forgetting?"
As the student government president, Welch parlayed her concern into action, and in November Colby began a new program allowing students 21 or older to enjoy beer and wine in the dining hall on selected Friday evenings.
Illustration by Leo Pando
While many colleges have on-campus pubs, Colby's new program is an anomaly. Beyond giving students a model for responsible drinking, it offers them a chance to learn about varieties of beer and wine as well as food pairings. At the inaugural event, one student asked about brewing techniques while another swirled the wine and checked for legs. "They're really interested. They're not just here for the drink," said bartender and dining services employee Sheila Ratte.
Over the years Colby has worked hard to educate students about the risks of excessive alcohol use and to give a clear message that alcohol abuse won't be tolerated. At the same time, administrators support this effort to teach responsible, moderate drinking among those 21-plus students who choose to partake. Welch believes this is part of the education. "They're not just preparing us within our major," she said, "they're preparing us for a successful life after Colby."