By Danielle Faczan
Rick Barnes, founder of Drink Think, a seminar addressing personal choices concerning alcohol in college, spoke to the Franklin College community Tuesday night.
“If you want to drink, drink,” Barnes said. “That’s your business. But if you drink, slow down a bit.”
During the convocation, Barnes focused on several aspects of alcohol, posing two main questions: why do we drink alcohol and what does alcohol do to us? He listed what students claimed to be the reasons they drink, including: sense of belonging, something exciting to talk about and having nothing better to do, among others, according to the College of Alcohol Survey. He also listed the effects of alcohol, such as the numbing of brain cells, slurred speech and slowing down of reaction time and coordination.
“He was honest and realistic, and he grabbed our attention,” freshman Katie O’Mara said. “He taught us things, and we listened.”
Freshmen Dylan Pasley and Aaron Grinell particularly liked the “Five Drink” idea. When attending a party and trying to avoid peer pressure, one can simply fill a cup with ice, lime and tonic water to make a fake alcoholic drink. They may then follow these steps: drink the first cup as fast as possible, drink the second cup “for fun,” walk around the room with the third drink and spill it on people, drink the fourth cup “for fun” and walk out in front of everyone at the party and fall to the floor after the fifth drink. By doing this, Barnes said a student can have a “sense of belonging” and deal with peer pressure without actually consuming alcohol.
“He seemed very down to earth,” Grinell said. “He wasn’t trying to preach to us.”
Attending the convocation was a requirement for several students, whether it for athletics, class or a fraternity house event. However, many students enjoyed the speech, even with it being mandatory.
“He was basically a normal person like us,” senior Michael Cooper said. “Normally, someone who speaks here is all, ‘my brother died because of alcohol,’ but this guy understands us. He’s like, ‘I get it; you’re going to drink.’”
Before his career as a professional speaker, Barnes worked in higher education for 18 years. Claiming he “fell into being a speaker,” Barnes has been a professional speaker for 12 years, working on the Drink Think program for the past eight.
“There have been places I go as a result of a student death, and there are places I have been where there are more problems after I have spoken,” Barnes said. “That’s a real downer because I hope I make an impact. I believe if I’ve touched one student, then I’ve made an impact, even if it doesn’t touch everyone.”