The Gustavian Weekly

BEER. it’s what’s for breakfast … and lunch … and dinner | The Gustavian Weekly

By Andy Setterholm Assistant News Editor | February 26, 2010 | Features, News

by: Lindsay Lelivelt

The annual underground student event known as Case Day has come and gone once again, leaving a wake of headaches and empty cans. Last Saturday, some students awoke to meet a challenge—to drink 24 beers in a day, regardless of the legal drinking age. This event has been a thorn in the side of campus and community officials for years, but students continue to participate. Case Day is no secret, though; everybody—from students to CFs, Campus Safety and the St. Peter Police Department (SPPD)—is aware of the occasion and the dangers it involves.

“The Police Department’s view of Case Day is that it exacerbates even weekend drinking. It is a major law enforcement issue and a community issue,” SPPD Chief of Police Mathew Peters said.

Students participating in the event have a different perspective. “Case Day is a slice of college life that’s an annual thing. It’s something you remember. And it’s not about the alcohol either; it’s about the experience,” one anonymous student said.

Many students choose not to take part in such an event. Some have even turned their decision not to participate into a fundraising opportunity. PLEDGE, a campus group for students choosing to live a substance-free lifestyle, sold root beer in the Market Place on Saturday as an alternative to consuming alcohol. The money they raised was donated to Lutheran World Relief, an organization directly involved with the Haiti recovery operation.

“The idea is not to say that there are two types of students, those who do Case Day and those [who] don’t. It’s to say … we’re all adults. We know the risks,” PLEDGE Council President and Sophomore Political Science and English Major Ethan Marxhausen said. “Hearing about the risks of drinking and the safe alternatives so many times can turn it into white noise. Our goal is to try to raise awareness in unique ways.”

Participating in Case Day undoubtedly involves risks, as does any time when a person chooses to consume such a large volume of alcohol. There are even more risks involved when a large number of students all choose to consume heavily together.

“[Students] need to make a sound decision on whether to drink or not,” Director of Campus Safety Ray Thrower said. “[Younger students] need to realize that it’s against the law. … It can affect [students’] professional careers.”

Case Day involves physical dangers such as alcohol poisoning and overexposure to cold weather, but it also creates social dangers. As in any situation with large numbers of people consuming heavily, the potential for sexual assault, violence, vandalism and other criminal behavior is raised. Students can face lasting consequences for being involved in any one of these situations.

As much as students may want to, or even feel pressured to, participate in this event, there are always consequences when one attempts to drink 24 beers in a day.

There are the ever-persistent risks involved with drinking for minors, such as yellow cards from CFs, citations from Campus Safety or even an Underage Consumption ticket from the St. Peter Police Department.

Despite the dangers, many students seem more than eager to participate.

“Case Day is the shit,” another anonymous student said. Many were up earlier than usual for a Saturday morning simply to start drinking. Annual Case Day T-shirts are sold privately before the event, usually with satirical slogans on cultural events. Last year’s “Yes We Can” with President Obama’s face and “Finish our cases” on the back, or this year’s “If Tiger can do it, so can we” mottos shed a humorous light on the event. The neon yellow of this year’s shirts was a defiant “We’re not hiding” from students.

“It’s a great excuse to have an all day party,” one student said. “There’s not a lot of hard liquor involved, so it ends up going all day and all night.” The all day party was a popular justification among students who were participating.

“It’s fun going out to houses and seeing everybody, especially if you don’t have time to get out a lot,” another student said.

Some, though, seem to be in it simply to accomplish the feat of drinking 24 beers in a day. Some even try to exceed the 24. “It’s a great day of non-stop liver punishment,” one student said.

Being stopped by Campus Safety or SPPD while traveling from place to place is a possibility of which many students are aware. Peters cited unruly behavior between houses as one of the most concerning issues involved with Case Day.

“If we have students yelling and throwing bottles in the street while people are trying to sleep, then we have a problem,” Peters said.

“Case Day is no different than any other weekend. We are always actively patrolling, and if we see people stumbling we have an obligation to stop them,” Thrower said. At the same time, students have to be trusted to look after each other. Gustavus has the amnesty program on campus, so students can call for medical assistance for their friends without worrying about judicial sanctions.

“Gusties have an obligation to look out for each other,” Thrower said.

*The identities of students who participated have been left anonymous in order to protect them from unfavorable reputations.


Comments are the sole opinion of the visitor who submitted the comment and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author of the article, its editors, or The Gustavian Weekly or Gustavus Adolphus College as a whole.

  1. Ajax the Great says:

    Drinking a whole case in a day? This kind of idiotic ritual would only be found, with few exceptions, in the United States, where the drinking age is 21. The combination of the forbidden fruit mentality and the feast-or-famine mentality lead to this kind of behavior.

  2. Tasha Carlson says:

    I was under the assumption that this story would not run again this year due to the fact that scholarship weekend is coming up and it blatantly gives Gustavus a bad name to prospective students, parents, alumni, and community members. Some things do not need to be broadcasted on the front page. Yes, it is the truth. This event occurs, but why must we advertise it and risk our reputation?! As a proud Gustavus alumni, I would never broadcast this event to prospective students, Saint Peter, or the entire internet because it will always be viewed negatively in association with our name. This article only tarnishes Gustavus’ name, one which I am proud to say at networking events, interviews, and professional meetings.

    • SKP says:

      The article is not what tarnishes Gustavus’ name. It is the immature, dangerous behavior of a group of students. Case Day is not the celebration of a tradition; it is a disaster waiting to happen. This really is a time for tightening up law enforcement and common sense so that we do not see alcohol related deaths at Gustavus.

    • Scott Broady says:

      By this logic the campus should not discuss hate and bias related incidents that happen on campus in the name of preserving our image. Luckily we have students, student organizations and campus news organizations that seek to raise awareness and spark thoughtful discussion about issues central to bettering our community. Its not always pretty, and it definitely goes against the ‘Minnesota nice’ (or even the sometimes more extreme ‘Gustavus nice’) grain, however to ignore these types of issues or to sequester them in the name of keeping a nice polished image would be an unfortunate and dishonest practice. Questioning the world around us is central to a liberal arts education and I applaud the efforts of those students and faculty who make us look at our own campus in a different light. I know that this article unfortunately gets published during scholarship weekend, but, if perspective students cannot deal with the realities of the Gustavus campus, then maybe Gustavus isn’t the best fit for them.

    • Greg Boone says:

      What’s more troubling than the timing and subject of this article is it’s lack of balance. This is not an article about binge drinking. At best it is an article about an unsafe and irresponsible “tradition” masquerading as an article about a campus wide binge drinking problem. Instead of addressing the problem, this article sensationalizes it.

      Scott is right that excessive drinking is a reality that our college must endure. But, if the Weekly’s editorial board really cared about the issue of excessive drinking, it would publish more than one article a year about it. Case Day is among the riskiest days of the year for binge drinking, but it is not anything special, save for it’s blatancy.

      The Chief of Police at the beginning of the article, tokened in as an expert to give this article an air of balance, was exactly right when he said that Case Day only exacerbates normal drinking. If the author of this article had spoken with someone in the Drug and Alcohol Education Center, Health Services, Residential Life, or the Dean of Students Office (just a few of the expert resources on campus, and around our community that could lend a more informative perspective than “Case Day is the shit”) he would have heard that repeated several times. He might have made the public health issue the story, focusing on how bad-ass it is to drink a whole case of beer in an all-day and have an all-day party.

      This article is disappointing, but given the Weekly’s history in covering case day (particularly the Editor in Chief’s history covering it), it is also, unfortunately, not surprising.

      • Scott Broady says:

        I do agree with what Greg says, however there are a few more things I’d like to point out. This article does, in a way, sensationalize case day, however, to get students to read an article about college binge drinking it needs to have a ‘human interest’ element. To be honest I’ve heard Gustavus students balk at case day articles in the past, reading them with a “well duh” sentiment. For the weekly to publish an article about binge drinking outside of case day or (and I really hope this never happens) a student dying, students simply would not read it. Even though there are some things that, when you put them in perspective, are pretty shocking (such as Gustavus students putting themselves in the hospital for alcohol poisoning on a fairly regular basis), the sizeable chunk of the drinking student body is desensitized to this as a ‘news item’.

        On an unrelated note, I think one reason why this was a front page article was because of what happened last year (the ‘case day’ issue was pulled from campus, supposedly by the schools administration). I don’t know whether this was a deliberate decision or not, because I think this article/issue would be much better addressed in the features section (there would be much more space/opportunity for real balance and more factual information about the issue as a whole) but it’s not an entirely bad reason. Let’s just say more outrageous things have been done in demonstrating the right of freedom of the press/speech.

  3. Phil Cleary says:

    Hi Tasha,

    You mention that the article tarnishes Gustavus’ name. I agree!

    However, the fact is that this is an event that happens annually at Gustavus and it is one that many students celebrate. Therefore, our image and name do not correspond to the reality of the way things actually are here. Because of this, I would rather that prospective students have a true perception of what Gustavus is actually like, than I would that they have some false image projected out to them.

    Having a reputation for two-faced or hypocritical is not a good image to have either: If this article risks our reputation, then our reputation is false… And I am glad that the weekly corrected the misconception.

    That being said, I think the article shows a complete and total lack of professionalism on behalf of the Weekly Staff. They invested significant time and resources into producing a publication of marginal quality (a blurry picture with a handwritten page number) simply to make a statement with the administration and see what they could get away with because of the fact that they were pulled of the shelves last year.

    Yes, it was poor judgment by the college to pull them last year, but also it was poor judgment to act so unprofessionally with a paper whose goal is to act professionally:

    …”The staff aims to meet professional journalistic standards” and is “sensitive to the fact that most of our readership is under the legal drinking age and aware of the college’s desire to promote responsible lifestyles and inclusive social activities” …

  4. J F says:

    This is a totally unacceptable event. I realize that drinking is prevelant on college campuses and else where but to almost condone it and make it seem O.K. by this article makes me sick. As much as I am happy my freshman son chose to attend GAC I am very disappointed that case day has been allowed to get this out of hand. I am also very disappointed when going to my son’s dorm to see empty beer cases by the recycling bins on his floor each time. Are the CF’s really monitoring what is going on? It’s time to step it up GAC. Alcohol abuse is a serious problem and should be treated that way.

  5. JJ Hartmann says:

    It is not that other schools aren’t doing Case Day every year…it is that GAC is just doing it better!

  6. El Grr says:

    As a third generation alumni of Gustavus, I have heard the many stories of differing times at Gustavus. Case day is a fond memory of mine and far tamer than anything the school saw in the 60’s, 70’s or 80’s. Yes, college students drink beer but as a person that has visited and attended graduate schools throughout the country, I can vouch that what is happening at Gustavus is far tamer than many other institutions. My friends and I participated in case day and we are all successful MD’s, PhD’s, lawyers, buisiness people and entrepreneurs. So I can say with confidence that we made it.

    While Gustavus certainly is not an institution like Bethel, someone that wants that kind of experience can chose to attend that type of school. It is the role of the college to provide alternatives for students that chose not to participate and educate students on the dangers of over consumption not to be a parent.

  7. Sometimes certain things in life are learned the hard way! By making students drink themselves silly, they can realize the risks it causes.

    I really don’t consider the day theme bad. These students should learn to regulate and YES, enjoy their Campus life and alcohol is one of the things that made us high during those days!!!
    Someone get me a beer…

  8. […] article, headlined “BEER. It’s What’s For Breakfast . . . And Lunch . . . And Dinner,” did not actually promote the event, but it did contain the photo below displaying a shimmering […]

  9. […] the furor over The Gustavian Weekly’s coverage of Case Day come actions and reactions. Theft and removal of copies of The Weekly in the wake of the annual […]

  10. Gary Lee, '78 says:

    I read of this article and the dispute surrounding it in an article from the Mankato Free Press cited by the Politics in Minnesota newsletter. I then read the article itself. I would dispute some of the characterizations of the article by those upset by it. It does not seem to me in any way to glorify or express support for the event described. The quoted statements from students in support of the event simply illustrate that opinions are mixed.

    Having written for the Weekly during my years there, and having gained some additional perspective in the thirty-some years since, I would call this a good article. However, looking from the particular perspective that excessive and binge drinking was a literally deadly problem there in the 1970’s, and had been a problem for decades before that, I would suggest that not all of the students objecting to the article fully appreciate just how serious or entrenched the problem is.

    I would also suggest that hiding newspapers is unlikely to hide the extent of the role drinking apparently still plays in the social life of Gustavus. Prospective students and their parents are presumably not that stupid.

    Keep up the good work, Weekly.

  11. Paul says:

    Boy.. this brings back the memories. In college, a buddy of mine was turning 24 and decided to have 24 drinks to commemorate his birthday. Luckily the guy was so physically fit and had such a high metabolism that he survived the night.

  12. Double Strollers says:

    This article has come as no surprise to me.

    I’m from the UK and the drinking culture amongst students has increased exponentially over the past 10 years, particularly amongst the female population.

    This behaviour is not only resulting in poor performance at college but can also have devastating effect on health.

    Drinking copeous amounts of alcohol is neither big nor clever

  13. Bruce Clancy says:

    I guess someone just missed out their duty in overseeing and looking after these students!

  14. Gorilla Safari says:

    Just got my memory back: that I was once a student