Editor's note: This story describes a scene from the past month.
Sprawled across her bed on top of her covers, Amanda’s bloodshot eyes remain closed. Though it’s just a minute past 9 a.m., and she’s supposed to head out for the greek tailgate fields in 15 minutes, she sleeps a few more seconds.
Her wrinkled T-shirt, tangled hair and four-leaf clover boys’ boxers finally made it into bed just six hours earlier after an extended night of drinking with some guy friends at an off-campus fraternity house.
While still in a deep slumber, she suddenly feels a body land on top of her.
She rolls over and sees her best friend and roommate from across the hall, her human alarm clock this early Saturday morning.
Amanda, whose last name was omitted because she is not old enough to legally drink alcohol, lets her know she is indeed awake, though certainly not happy.
Two strawberry daiquiris, nine beers, four peppermint patties and several glasses of “green shit” slosh around in her system, but Amanda rises out of bed, unaware of how intoxicated she still is.
“I don’t remember drinking the rest of my beers,” Amanda says, as she hobbles into the shower, the dizziness starting to set in.
“Now I have to go put makeup on so I can talk to boys.”
But makeup won’t be the only tool Amanda uses to spark conversations with the opposite sex this morning. The loud and outgoing façade she normally wears disappears in front of most frat guys.
Because she’s a member of the greek system, Amanda feels pressured to look a certain way. She doesn’t think her body is as attractive as what’s expected of sorority women.
In preparation for greek parties and tailgates, she binge drinks to ignore her worries about guys’ judgment and retain her confidence.
She said she doesn’t feel “hot and awesome” until she’s eight shots in.
Amanda is a junior at IU.
She heads down the steps gently, drunkenness beginning to set in. She manages to pull out her skillet and cook a few eggs over easy. A piece of toast helps soak up last night’s alcohol.
After donning an outfit of black leggings, red Toms and a crimson spirit jersey, Amanda’s best friend helps her braid her hair and put a small “IU” tattoo on her left cheek, using the toilet as a chair.
“If you make out with boys, your hair isn’t in the way,” Amanda says, justifying the extra minutes she’s spending to get ready. “Or if you throw up, but I’m worried about hooking up, not throwing up.”
She grips the stairwell as she carefully walks down the stairs toward the kitchen where her own personal pregame awaits her. Amanda pulls an almost full plastic Minute Maid orange juice container out of the fridge and takes only a small sip to make room for what she’s about to add.
She removes two old, almost empty label-less water bottles from the freezer. Both are filled with a clear, unfrozen substance. Amanda adds the contents of one bottle to the orange juice, creating a crude Screwdriver to drink on her way to her sorority’s paired tailgate at the greek fields.
Because of rules imposed last year by the Interfraternity Council banning handles of hard liquor at greek tailgates, Amanda will be able to consume only as much hard alcohol as she can mask in her Minute Maid bottle. Cheap light beer will be all she can guzzle at her sorority’s tailgate.
Of course, she’d rather drink someone else’s liquor, but she’s not afraid to dip into her own stash if that’s what it takes.
Amanda then draws an opened bottle of store-brand lemon-lime soda from the fridge, takes the contents of the other water bottle — UV Cake vodka — and takes turns sipping from the soda and the water bottle until the water bottle is empty.
She cringes from the aftertaste of cake vodka and lemon-lime soda, but it has served its purpose.
“Let’s go, bitches,” she says as she heads out the door.
Four shots in.
Nancy Stockton, director of Counseling and Psychological Services at the IU Health Center said with the highly publicized drinking culture at IU, she knows cases like Amanda’s are common.
In recent years, the school that used to be dubbed the “Top Party School in the Country” by the Princeton Review has slid down the rankings. Still, Stockton said she thinks there are more students than ever drinking at dangerous levels.
More than 40 percent of college students in Indiana admitted to binge drinking during the past two weeks in spring 2013, according to a Indiana College Substance Use Survey conducted by the Indiana Prevention Resource Center. In the United States, 37.4 percent of college students surveyed admitted to the dangerous practice.
Stockton said it’s certainly an issue.
“National trends are found here,” she said. “Slightly fewer students are engaging in binge drinking, but a higher number are seriously binge drinking well in excess.”
During the past weekend, there were 13 alcohol-related cases reported by the IU Police Department around Memorial Stadium and the tailgate fields before and during the game. Many more students, like Amanda, managed to mask their drunkenness for one more Saturday afternoon.
In the car on the way to the tailgate fields, as the alcohol begins to sink in, Amanda realizes she’s left her student ID at home.
But even if she had her ID, the only reason she would think about actually going to the football game would be to get loyalty points for better basketball seats.
“Good. Even if I wanted to go to the game, I couldn’t ‘cause I don’t have my ID,” she said.
Amanda gets out of the car to walk down Jordan Avenue toward 17th Street while finishing her drink. She scans for a place to discard the empty bottle.
Without a trash can in sight, she tosses it into the Briscoe Quad parking lot.
Soon after, Amanda hops a chain fence and makes her first stop on her way to another drunken Saturday.
Amanda first experimented with drinking her junior year of high school at a friend’s birthday party. Amanda tried to take it easy, drinking just one Bullfrog — a mixture of Mountain Dew, orange juice and vodka — but several sips later she was more than tipsy.
She let loose even more once she got to college, including an incident during Welcome Week her freshman year when she claims she likely could have died due to excessive drinking.
“Welcome Week I went fucking crazy,” she said. “When I had 11 shots in an hour and was starting to become unresponsive on the floor, my two guy friends dragged me home — like dragged me, as in I had bruises where they were holding my side up Fee (Lane).”
But now, as a junior with much more drinking experience, she said she knows when she can let loose and when she needs to stay in and work on homework instead.
“I can tell if I need to throw up or if I need to stop,” Amanda said. “Freshman year, I should have been worried about it, but I was too stupid to worry about it.”
“Where can I get a beer?” Amanda says as she walks beneath the miniature white circus tent housing her sorority’s paired tailgate early Saturday.
She walks to the white folding table amidst a crowd of blazers, leggings and Sperrys playing beer pong and snags a spare Keystone Ice from the table, cracking it open. She searches for a red Solo cup, pours and begins to sip.
She walks back to find a few of her sorority sisters and asks what they have planned for the rest of the day, but she quickly loses interest and pulls out her phone to occupy herself.
“Drunk Snapchatting! That sounds like fun,” she says.
As Amanda tries to walk away, one of her sisters grabs her shirt, pulls her back and points to the ground. Her lone house key lies in the grass, a near catastrophe avoided.
Yet, after just 30 minutes, Amanda decides it’s time to move on and leave the frat fields for her second of three tailgates with the off-campus fraternity boys she got hammered with the night before.
The next tailgate is much farther back, positioned in the family section of the IU tailgate fields. Close by, some one’s dad throws a football with his young son, and grilling is well underway.
Amanda arrives and is greeted with laughs and stories about last night, some which she remembers vividly and others that remain a little hazy.
“Did you guys drink all my beers? ‘Cause they were gone when I got home,” she asks, only to find that it was indeed she who had consumed nine beers less than 12 hours before.
“You kept getting up and saying ‘Not enough alcohol — not enough,’” one of her friends says.
Amanda takes a burger from the grill, plops it on her plate and starts eating.
After a few brief moments without an alcoholic beverage in hand, one of Amanda’s sorority sisters asks her to hold her half-empty can of Mike’s Hard Limeade for her while she tosses a football with her boyfriend.
Amanda takes the liberty of finishing it off on her own as she prepares to head to her final tailgate of the morning. There awaits a wide spread of food and parents who will provide nicer liquor.
As she walks through the west parking lot of the football stadium, Amanda begins to realize her single burger didn’t quite satisfy her hunger.
“I would totally flash my tits for a burger right now,” she says.
Her roommate manages a chuckle, hoping her best friend is just kidding.
Amanda arrives at a sorority sister’s family’s tailgate as the tunes of the band and cheers of the crowd boil over the walls of Memorial Stadium. Her sorority sister makes a brutal but honest introduction.
“This is my friend, drunk Amanda,” she says.
Amanda shakes their hands and then piles her plate with ham sandwiches, pita chips and fried pickles. She sits down and starts to feel the heat of the sun on her back and the warmth of the mix of vodka and cheap beer flowing through her system.
But she decides that at this point, four shots, a Mike’s Hard and a beer in at 11:45 a.m., why stop now?
The adults pass around mini plastic shot glasses of Fireball Whisky, and Amanda tosses one back. She follows it by grabbing a maraschino cherry from a glass jar on the table that has been soaked in Bacardi 151 .
She swallows one. She grabs another.
“These cherries are disgusting. Do you really think they’ll get me drunk?” she asks, her voice noticeably louder than normal.
“Well, yeah,” one of her sisters answers.
“Omm,” Amanda mutters as she swallows it whole.
From where they’re standing in the parking lot north of the stadium, they hear a roar rising from the football field. The Hoosiers have just scored a touchdown.
Amanda barely notices.
“It’s much better to get drunk than to see the touchdown,” she says.
Amanda tries to unlock her phone to take a photo of the whole group, but in her current state, the simple task of swiping her finger across the screen is too taxing.
The adults laugh and joke with Amanda, offering her more shots of vodka-infused Jell-O as well as more Fireball whisky.
She takes another Jell-O shot in hand and runs her pointer finger around the rim to loosen it before she sucks it down her throat.
In total, she will have had five Jell-O shots, four shots of vodka, three shots of Fireball, three cherries doused in Bacardi, two beers and one Mike’s Hard before 1 p.m., but Amanda reasons that until her time in Bloomington runs out, her excuse to drink dangerously lives on.
“It’s not alcoholism till after college,” she says.
Follow reporter Nathan Brown on Twitter @nathan_brown10.
Another drunken Saturday
IDS explores IU's binge-drinking culture, follows junior as she hits three tailgates in four hours
Editor's note: This story describes a scene from the past month.