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.