Looking for the Dignity in the Party

Hello new fellow Zags! As an alum, I take special pride in helping to welcome you to Gonzaga. I remember the first day I arrived on campus. The years ahead were filled with new friends, new challenges, and lots of new choices.

In my role as a staff member I have the privilege of talking with students about party culture. So, take a moment to think about what your expectations are before joining this community. Movies, music, stories from older peers or siblings, and even adults reminiscing about “the glory days” may have already created impressions in you about what your college experience could – and maybe even should – be. But, stop to ask yourself, what do you really want from your college experience? What role do you think alcohol or other drugs might play while at Gonzaga?

If you choose not to use—whether because you are in long-term recovery, are upholding religious beliefs, don’t want to get in trouble, don’t like the taste, the smell, the feel, could care less or whatever your reasons are—know that you are not alone. Many students on our campus will never associate with alcohol or other drugs. In fact, most students overestimate the extent to which their peers do those things. However, many of you may encounter them at some point in your journey. My experience in addition to research we’ve done on campus has shown us that some students, whether of legal age or not, will choose to consume alcohol or other substances while in college. For this reason we offer many ways for students to educate themselves on how to minimize risk if they do choose to drink or use drugs. The Zag Into Action course you will complete over the summer is one way to begin to examine your own knowledge about partying and how that connects to important topics like gender, relationships, and violence prevention.

Our students have reported that the top two ways other students’ drinking has interfered with their lives is by interrupting their sleep or causing arguments or other unwanted “drama” (National College Health Assessment, 2016). You have an awesome opportunity ahead of you to continue to learn how to be in community with others. So as you reflect on what role substances might play in your life, I encourage you to also think about how you will respect the choices of your peers, while calling attention to things that don’t seem okay. Zags help Zags, in a variety of ways, and that is what being a member of our community is about.

Here are some other questions to ponder:

  • What has it felt like in your life to be respected? To be valued?
  • How do we express that to each other?
  • What does that look like in different settings and in different cultures?
  • And what does that look like at a party?

The Gonzaga experience fosters a mature commitment to dignity of the human person. It is my hope that you will have as many opportunities as I did to learn, grow, and make meaning of dignity during your time with us. Sometimes you’ll find the dignity in the party, and sometimes you won’t. Part of what we do in the Center for Cura Personalis is to help students figure out how to celebrate and also how to struggle; how to make meaning of your choices and how to keep moving forward; how to care for the whole person by first caring for yourself. As you encounter the party culture, whether that involves alcohol and other drugs or not, I look forward to hearing from you.




Author Bio:

Jenna Parisi is the Assistant Director for Well-Being and Prevention Education in the Center for Cura Personalis. She graduated from Gonzaga in ’07 with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and a concentration in Women’s Studies. She received her Master of Science in Public Health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Originally from San Diego, CA, Jenna returned to Gonzaga in 2015 to oversee health promotion efforts on campus while focusing her work around alcohol and other drugs. She serves as the staff liaison and advocate for students in recovery as well as an advisor for the GU Dance Team. Outside of the office, you can find her practicing yoga, teaching POUND, cooking, reading, and exploring the INW with her partner, pup, and toddler.

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