The annual “Not This Weekend” challenge took place this year between Thursday, Feb. 16 and Monday, Feb. 20. The educational event encourages Minnesota State Mankato students to partake in other fun activities besides binge drinking. Student Health Services and Campus Recreation at MNSU, along with other organizations in the community, teamed up to hold the event.
Paige Heinrich, a graduate assistant at Student Health Services, explained the activities students participated in last weekend as part of the challenge.
“We have a ton of events offered by Campus Rec. We have film features that they can go to, plays, zumba classes. Highlighted events, if they go to those, they are entered in to win different prizes. There’s Insomnia Cookies on Saturday night at the men’s basketball game. The first fifty students get to have a cookie, so that’s pretty cool,” said Heinrich.
Heinrich said that last year about a thousand people signed up to take the “Not This Weekend” pledge, adding that the event is not only for students but also for faculty, staff, and community members as well. Anyone who wants to abstain from binge drinking and spend time hanging out and having fun in other ways is free to take the pledge.
Laura Herbst-Johnson, the alcohol educator on campus, explained the negative effects alcohol can have on students.
“There are a lot of physical and emotional consequences from excessive binge drinking. A big part of that is the emotional consequences that can come from blacking out, maybe finding themselves in a vulnerable situation or a dangerous situation that can be related to sexual assault,” Herbst-Johnson said, continuing that “In the after effects that sometimes stem from that is anxiety about why they did something or why they said something, or how they ended up in this situation that they basically didn’t intend to,” said Herbst-Johnson.
Drinking alcohol can also affect one’s neighbors. Herbst-Johnson explained that, “what we want to think about is our community, and how they’re affected by binge drinking, especially students who would be living in the residential halls. Not only that, we want to look at the Mankato community, and they’re affected by our student’s behavior that’s sometimes related to poor decisions taking place due to excessive drinking.”
She emphasized that we are to respect our neighbors’ desire for a quiet atmosphere uninterrupted by loud partiers. “When we’re drinking we tend to get loud, and maybe we don’t realize we’re getting loud, and that can be disruptive to people living close by where they hear music, or they hear us talking and laughing. We don’t always intend to be disrespectful, but sometimes that just kind of comes with the territory of drinking.”
Herbst-Johnson said that about 75 percent of MNSU students drink alcohol, but only a small percentage are problematic drinkers. She also pointed out that there are a lot of activities to do in the Mankato area that do not involve drinking.
“Not This Weekend” encourages students to take a much-needed break from binge drinking in order to live a healthier lifestyle. The hope is that after students realize that there are other things to do with their friends besides binge drink, they will continue the pattern of making responsible choices, learning respect for themselves and those around them.