PILLARS, SUB and FlipSide: an alternative way of life
By EMILY HOWALD
Assistant Scene Editor
It's freshman year. You have gone through countless mandatory meetings and all you want to do is be finished. You want it all to be over so you can get on with being a normal college student and not the impressionable freshman who is having rule upon rule imbedded into their mindset. There is only one meeting left and you do not want to go, for its something called PILLARS and it is about responsible socializing. This is a waste of time, you tell yourself, and I already know how to be responsible.
That isn't always true.
Every year freshmen enter into this environment quasi-clueless. Everyone always thinks they know what they are doing and will never have to deal with alcoholism or alcohol poisoning or anything else of this sort, but, more often that not, they are mistaken.
In addition to this initial flawed philosophy, students are often misguided thereafter about the three Notre Dame student groups that have been formed in an attempt to protect and inform both the confident drinkers or those who choose alternative fun away from alcohol.
When the term PILLARS comes to mind, most first thoughts are often "mandatory meeting" or "non-drinking." However, these are misconceptions. Yes, PILLARS is a mandatory meeting that freshmen must attend, but it is not because the administration is trying to make your orientation experience as drawn-out as possible, but because they are concerned with the safety of their students.
People often link PILLARS to two other alcohol affiliated organizations: FlipSide and SUB. When one is mentioned, people usually associate it with the other two. What they do not know is that these three organizations are separate entities and only share the commonality of being student groups here on campus.
FlipSide is probably the most commonly known non-alcohol-affiliated organization throughout campus, albeit through an unfavorable stereotype. When people hear "FlipSide" they think "non-drinkers/no-fun." However, it is actually an organization that provides an alternative to drinking.
Their activities are open to the public and encourage anyone, both drinkers, and non-drinkers, to attend. Although some of its members do not drink, they do not solely represent the non-drinking community on campus, they merely show that there are ways to have fun without the use of alcohol.
The Student Union Board's mission states that "the SUB Programming Body shall enhance undergraduate student life by providing undergraduate student services and social, intellectual, and cultural opportunities that respond to the needs and wants of the undergraduate student body in the most efficient manner available."
SUB provides movies as well as the ever-popular Acousticafé. They too provide alternatives to drinking and often experience the misconception of being affiliated with non-drinkers or even FlipSide. The two groups are separate from each other and rarely cosponsor events.
Peers Inspiring Learning Listening and Responsible Socializing (PILLARS) is an organization run out of the Office of Drug and Alcohol Education. The purpose of the group is not to add yet another mandatory meeting on a freshman's list, but to educate them on the effects of alcohol abuse and to encourage freshmen to be careful.
Many people instinctively think that PILLARS consists solely of non-drinkers, but that is not the case. It is a group led primarily by students that consists fully of both drinkers and non-drinkers. The object is to try to reach the students on a level that they both can relate to.
Both drinkers and non-drinkers talk to the students, so that both ends of the drinking spectrum are covered. The average meeting consists of a humorous, yet realistic video produced by student that portrays non-drinkers, moderate drinkers, and recovering alcoholics. Before the meeting begins, a leader encourages each student to try to decipher which person represents their individual drinking styles.
Small groups are then formed to give students a chance to talk on a more intimate level. The alcohol policy is discussed, high risk drinking is explained, differences between males and females drinking capabilities are demonstrated, and the myth of alcohol poisoning is uncovered.
PILLARS emphasizes the importance of responsible socializing and being smart about their actions. They neither encourage, nor discourage drinking.
These three groups are unique in their own ways and they all encourage our student body to have fun in a responsible manner. Not only do they aid in strengthening the Notre Dame community, but they also give us, the student body, an innocent and alternative chance to have fun.
Often, there are misconceptions about these organizations at Notre Dame. However, the student body – drinkers and non-drinkers alike — should try to see these organizations for what they are: an alternative.
Nothing more, nothing less.
The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.
Emily Howald is a sophomore English and Marketing major with a minor in journalism. She does not enjoy conflict and hates when people dislike her, so she begs readers to please be kind if they chose to write her not-so-nice mail at email@example.com.
All Scene Stories for Monday, September 23, 2002