Are Kent State students spending too much on alcohol?

Graphic by Rachael Chillcott

Maura Zurick

The cost of drinking varies depending on the venue and type of alcohol. It can range from $20 to $200. Is it worth it?

Cocktail party

Megan Blankenship, who graduated in December with a degree in fashion merchandising, said she had many cocktail parties over her years as a Kent State student, and the cost to host the party depends on the kinds of food and alcohol served.

Cocktail parties are typically formal parties where cocktails such as martinis, margaritas and daiquiris are served with an assortment of hors d’oeuvres.

“You can have a cocktail party at a very cheap price if you buy bottom-shelf alcohol and just get some things to prepare at home as far as food,” she said. “The cost may be about $150 for a cheap party.”

Blankenship said more expensive bottles and food would cost more than $250 because alcohol raises the price. Her parties usually had drinks such as vodka and wine. Grey Goose Vodka costs, on average, $50 for a large bottle, and the prices of wine vary depending on the brand, color and size, but the types of alcohol depend on what the guests like.

“Guys typically like darker liquor, so you have to have something like rum or whiskey on hand for them,” Blankenship said. “Then you need to factor in mixers like cranberry juice, Redbull or tonic water. Plus, whatever kind of garnishes you would like to decorate your guests’ cocktails with. You can go simple and just do a lime or lemon. Strawberries are a great touch for champagne, though.”

Blankenship said cheese trays are always a must have for any cocktail party. They pair well with wine, but it’s also important to have finger foods. She recommends serving pita chips and dip, a veggie or fruit tray or sushi.

Despite the cost of cocktail parties, Blankenship said she enjoys hosting them because it, “brings close friends together without going to a bar or club.” She said they are combination of a classy dinner and house party — especially if it’s a special occasion, such as a birthday or holiday.

“They are expensive to host,” she said. “I think so few college students have cocktail parties because of the time and preparation needed and most students don’t have the monetary resources to host them.”

Fraternity party

A junior political science student, who asked not to be named, said he has been a member of a social fraternity for three years. Most fraternities have parties once a week — especially at the beginning of the semester, so they can get their names out there.

He said because the parties do get big with about 100 to 200 people, the brothers have to spend more money on alcohol.

“We usually buy a couple cases of Natty Light or some other cheaper beer to start off with, and as the night goes on, if we run out, we go on beer runs,” he said. “If we do this more than once, we might ask some of the guests to donate a buck or two because it gets pretty pricey.”

He said on average 10 to 20 brothers have to chip in about $10 to 30 per party depending on the type of alcohol. The number of guests and how many beer runs they have to do is a factor as well.

“We always try and keep it free for the guests because we want people to come have a good time, but we also don’t have the funds to provide 40 cases of beer for free,” he said.

His reason for joining the fraternity as a freshman was to meet new friends and go to parties. He said fraternity parties are how most freshmen meet people.

“They can’t go out downtown because they’re underage, and they don’t know many upperclassmen to go to house parties,” he said. “That’s why fraternity parties are usually packed.”

He said most fraternity parties don’t serve food because of the associated costs.

“That’d just be more money out of our pockets that we really don’t have,” he said. “Although it would be a good idea, but I think if we had food we’d have to charge people to get in. That kind of defeats the purpose. We want people to come out, have a great time, meet people, get to know the brothers and do all that for basically no cost to them.”

House party

A senior English major, who asked not to be named because she is underage, said she moved into a house off campus during the summer. She said she threw her first house party in August during “Welcome Weekend” to celebrate the return of her friends.

“That party was pretty expensive,” she said. “My three roommates and I bought all the alcohol. We bought two cases of Natty, which were maybe like $20 each, and a few bottles of Smirnoff plus mixers which cost about $100 or so.”

She said they had about 40 people at their house for the party and that she didn’t anticipate the additional expenses of cleaning up after the party.

“There were stains and stuff on the carpet, and we had to buy cleaner,” she said. “We also had to call a plumber because someone clogged our toilet. These add to the true price of having a house party, which is really expensive.”

She said she hosted a few more parties, but they were all “bring your own beverage” because she couldn’t afford the high expenses of alcohol and cleaning. She said the police also cited them once for a noise violation.

“No one was arrested or anything, thank God, but we still had to pay a $200 fine,” she said. “We really didn’t anticipate any legal trouble like that, so the fine was a lot for us to dish out, but I guess it’s better than jail time.”

She said most people who attend her house parties drink Four Lokos or beer because it keeps costs down.

“When people go to a house party they bring cheap drinks with a higher alcohol content,” she said. “It’s college. We can’t afford expensive liquor all the time.”

Dorm party

An underage freshman exploratory major, who lives in Eastway, said she has been to a few parties in her friends’ dorm rooms.

“We’re freshmen, so we don’t have many options,” she said. “My friend lives across the hall, and a couple of us hang out and drink there. It’s just so convenient.”

She said her friend’s older sibling buys them alcohol.

“We have to pay him back,” she said. “Usually we all just buy our own drinks, so I spend like $20 a week on alcohol. I just get packs of Mike’s or Smirnoff Ice.”

She said drinking in the dorm is worth the risk.

“We can’t go downtown, we don’t know many people who have house parties, and it gets cold, so we just want to stay in,” she said. “There’s usually about eight of us in a dorm and as long as we’re quiet, we won’t get in trouble.”

Campus police cited a few of her friends, and they were fined about $150 per person.

“The cost of an underage is really high, but I think as long as I drink responsibly, I’ll be fine,” she said.

The police officer’s opinion

Michquel Penn, community resource officer at the Kent State Police Department, said cover charges, food and high beverage prices are not the only costs of drinking.

“Ohio’s laws changed in regards to drinking,” Penn said. “Underage fines are higher. Furnishing fines were doubled, and the OVI charges are more serious than a DUI.”

Penn said the fine range for an underage is $100 to $200 and a court hearing. Furnishing is when a person who is 21 or older buys alcohol for a person under 21.

Penn said fines for this are $125 to $300 or 30 days of jail time. She said there is also a chance that a judge will order some type of treatment and prevention program.

“Students will have to pay the fines, maybe a lawyer fee and face the judge’s orders if they’re caught,” she said. “They also have to take into consideration they can be arrested, so they might need to get bailed out of jail, and they will miss classes.”


Dan Panichi, an applied communications alumnus, said he used to go to the bars three times a week to watch sports with his guy friends, hang out and socialize.

“On the weekends I would go out to drink,” Panichi said. “During the week, I usually go to Buffalo Wild Wings, so I spend about $25 on wings and beer.”

He said on the weekend he usually spends about $40 because he buys mixed drinks, which are more expensive.

“I also like to drink Heineken, which isn’t too cheap either,” Panichi said. “I don’t go to the bars much anymore because I like to just drink with a few friends. Bars and parties tend to get overcrowded on the weekends.

Panichi said it is cheaper to buy alcohol at a store than a bar. He said it’s also more convenient to drink with a few friends at home because they don’t have to drive or pay for a cab.

“I think it’s an age thing,” Panichi, who is 27 years old, said. “The bars are more fun when you’re like 21 to 24. You get tired of going to the same places after a while too, and Kent doesn’t have that many options. We all outgrow that phase.”

Panichi said he went to bars in Cleveland more than he went out in downtown Kent. There are more options in Cleveland, and it’s closer to where he lives.

“Really, Kent is rookie training ground,” he said.

Contact Maura Zurick at [email protected].