Why spraying alcohol can be a contentious issue

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Celebrations at the end of exams often involve spraying alcohol onto those who have finished studying; a seemingly harmless tradition that encompasses the frivolity of post-exam feeling. Yet this activity, whilst intended to be only a mere exhibition of glee, can have disruptive and painful consequences: some students, to whom alcohol is forbidden on religious or ethical grounds, may feel perturbed by this action. What may seem innocent, spraying one’s friends with Cava to revel in the end of the academic year, can cause more pain than good.

And this is not ‘political correctness gone mad’. In our brilliantly diverse society, we must accept when there is a problem; a clash of culture, and work to resolve it. Whilst complaining about something as inconsequential as this activity can lead us to be accused of excessive allegations of offence about trivial matters, the fact of the matter is that, to some, this is not trivial at all. To some, who follow specific beliefs of any religion and culture (Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist etc), being in contact with alcohol is tremendously dangerous on a spiritual level. To others, who may have struggled with alcohol addictions in the past, the spraying of one’s friends and the tradition of inebriation after exams have finished could open up a nightmarish can of worms. Alcohol is, surely, something that we could limit to the confines of situations where all feel comfortable. So why don’t we?

It would be all too easy to disregard such qualms in the elation of post-exam ecstasy, but we must take the time to consider the harmful effects that can be caused by the drenching of a recreational drug over people who may feel apprehensive about its use. This is not a total condemning of alcohol as a celebratory tool – far from it. But awareness of others, particularly of their discomfort, and an effort to resolve this, is crucial in any progressive society. When Liverpool won the League Cup final in 2012, the players understood that their team doctor, a devout Muslim, would feel uncomfortable with his clothes being sprayed with alcohol, and hence moved his clothes out of their changing rooms before celebrating in this manner. A similar approach could easily be taken in post-exam festivities.

Though drenching alcohol is often an innocuous activity of spontaneity, everyone will have a considerably larger amount of fun if they are all comfortable with this. Exam celebration should be enjoyable for everybody; after all, finishing one’s exams is, surely, a moment only of joy. But if everyone can share in this joy, the better for all. 

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