Taking stock of LDOC


John Powers ’26 is a public policy major from Brooklyn, NY. He is a resident assistant and a member of the Undergraduate Moot Court Competition team. Email him at jdpowers@wm.edu.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own. 

I am finishing my fourth semester at the College of William and Mary and have never attended any Blowout festivities. I don’t think I ever will. 

At the end of every semester, students at the College celebrate their hard work with a day of alcohol consumption and time with friends. Blowout serves as a short reprieve from the stress of finals looming over students. With LDOC quickly approaching, many will be preparing all the essentials for their borgs and making plans with friends. But if you are someone who finds yourself not doing so, you’re not alone and you just might benefit from it. Indeed, there are hidden costs to Blowout. 

First, students should consider what truly matters on LDOC. A few intoxicated hours of having fun with friends is temporary, but final grades are forever. Final exams are not just any assignment. They comprise a sizable chunk of evaluation, providing students with an opportunity to make or break their course grade. Put differently, attending Blowout festivities isn’t like going out on a normal Friday during the semester. In that case, you might be able to manage the lost time from partying and a possible hangover, since your work for the following week might be low-stakes assignments. That may not be true of final exams, which require a greater level of effort. 

After LDOC, students just have the weekend before finals officially begin. You might get lucky and not have an exam on the first day of finals, but I have found that it is quite common to have at least one final exam in the beginning of the finals period. For most students, this means that the weekend is a critical time to study and put your best foot forward for your classes. You might say that Blowout doesn’t take place during the weekend, so there is still time to study. One should consider the effect of hangovers, though. Hangovers can last 24 hours or even more, especially if you have consumed excessive amounts of alcohol. This can leave you weak and fatigued throughout the weekend, unable to study or not able to study effectively. 

Sleep plays an important role in this discussion. Alcohol might help you get to sleep faster, but it will reduce sleep quality. Even limited consumption of alcohol can reduce sleep quality. Finals season is probably the last time that you would want to have diminished sleep quality, though. Michael K. Scullin’s “The Eight Hour Sleep Challenge During Final Exams Week article found that students who slept more than eight hours each night before final exams performed better than those who did not. 

Of course, grades are not the be-all and end-all of your college experience. Grades say nothing about your character, and getting poor grades could serve as a valuable learning experience. Nevertheless, it is rational to increase the likelihood of achieving higher grades by ditching Blowout. While C’s get degrees, A’s and B’s look a lot better to prospective employers and graduate schools. 

Maybe you’re just built different, though, and you’ve always managed to achieve both good grades and attend Blowout. A word of caution would be the increased police presence around campus. This semester’s Blowout will be unlike those of prior semesters. Police will be patrolling the area and could stop any student for reasonable suspicion of intoxication. If you are underage or otherwise breaking the law, you could get arrested. So, not only will you be behind on exams studying from a likely hangover, but you will also have to deal with legal issues and spend even more time away from studying. You’ll likely face Community Values and Restorative Practices and go through the college’s disciplinary process, adding even more stress to your plate. The same risk of disciplinary action applies if your not-so-chill RA finds you intoxicated in a residence hall common area. In short, it only takes one LDOC to seriously damage your conduct record. 

Take my points with a grain of salt. If you love Blowout, more power to you. Still, there are logical reasons to skip out on this tradition, and you’re not any less of a member of the Tribe for doing so.


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