Despite the moniker of “Dry Campus” and the ever-looming threat of Residence Life-sanctioned disciplinary action, there is booze at Goshen College.When my parents asked whether GC was a party school, I told them that there were quite a few parties – if I wanted to, I could get drunk essentially any weekend. To give the college some credit, a large number of students go to parties that are held off-campus.
However, an uncomfortable question arises: what happens to these parties once off-campus housing is no longer an option for students? Students will still throw parties, but now, the parties will be the college’s problem.
Here’s my proposal: instead of trying to fight a losing battle, construct a framework that allows for the safe and controlled consumption of alcohol.
Haverford College in Pennsylvania has a campus alcohol policy that allows for student possession and consumption of liquor; however, the policy stresses safety, moderation, accountability and vigilance.
Purdue University allows for student possession and consumption of liquor in fraternity and sorority houses but does not allow for the possession or consumption of alcohol in traditional residence halls.
Stanford University allows for the possession of small amounts of alcohol for undergraduates of legal age and requires parties to be registered with the student affairs office. All of these policies also mention respecting those who do not wish to drink, and respecting quiet hours around the parties.
I am not saying that GC needs to combine these three policies to create the perfect policy for the community; I just wanted to give real world examples of policies that are not strictly “Yes alcohol, no restrictions” or “No alcohol, no exceptions,” with the hope that GC may fashion its own policy that fits our community.
I can envision a future where limited alcohol consumption is allowed on campus property, in places such as upperclassmen housing and ILCs where the majority of the students are of age. There probably isn’t a scenario where alcohol would be allowed in the dorms, simply because most (if not all) of the people living there are underage.
Since the world outside of GC is not alcohol-free, it doesn’t make much sense for an institution that is meant to prepare us for life beyond college to forbid exploration of society’s favorite psychoactive chemical (behind only caffeine).
I suspect that GC’s unhealthy relationship with alcohol may be partially caused by alcohol’s taboo nature. The administration’s mentality about alcohol consumption seems to be that a) it doesn’t happen here because the Community Standards say so, b) alcohol “invites unhealthy escapism, wastes money [and] takes lives” (taken from the recent Clery Act report), and c) in the rare event that people DO drink, we will send an email reinforcing that this campus is unsafe for the inebriated.
This perception of alcohol as a purely negative substance is wrong. Although some people who consume alcohol make terrible decisions, many more people who choose to consume alcohol do not.
A policy emphasizing vigilance rather than “no alcohol” may even decrease alcohol-related incidents, especially if it means that people in dicey situations aren’t afraid of involving RAs or campus safety without being documented with alcohol themselves.
Housing policy is getting a facelift, and it may be time for GC’s alcohol policy to get the same treatment. Whether or not the college decides to change its alcohol policy, the Powers That Be should take a long and hard look at the college’s deep-rooted – yet unacknowledged – relationship with alcohol.