The Debate Surrounding Hard Alcohol Bans on Campus

Banning Hard Alcohol on Campus

Posted by Shelley Kilpatrick on 21 January 2016 |

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campus hard alcohol bansThe legal drinking age is 21, right when students are typically in the middle of their college experience. And many experiment with alcohol for the first time when they leave home at 18. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that students drinking on campus is problem for many colleges and universities.

The National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) reports that while underage drinking on campus has declined since 2002, young adults, ages 12-20, still widely abuse alcohol. In fact, 28-34 percent have indulged in binge drinking in the last two-week period.

NASPA also asserts that “alcohol is involved with 57 percent of violation of campus policies, 52 percent of violent behavior and 72 percent of acquaintance rapes.”

These grim statistics are causing colleges and universities to rethink their policies—specifically regarding alcohol on campus.

According to an article from Fusion, a news outlet for youth and diverse audiences, early last year Dartmouth College instituted a ban on hard alcohol—15 percent alcohol by volume or 30 proof.

And it’s not the only one. Ten other schools also have similar bans on hard alcohol: Amherst College, Bates College, Bowdoin College, Colby College, Colgate University, University of Notre Dame, Stanford University, Swarthmore College, Washington University in St. Louis, and Williams College.

But not everyone agrees with campus band on hard alcohol. In fact, there is a lot of debate surrounding the issue that we are going to examine in this blog post.

The Arguments FOR Hard Alcohol Bans

According to supporters, the reason for hard alcohol bans is to help prevent harmful drinking habits. Without access to hard liquor, students won’t be able to engage in some of the most dangerous drinking behaviors.

For example, it will hopefully reduce the instances of pre-gaming, where students consume large amounts of alcohol in order to get drunk before going out. Bans also aim to reduce the likelihood of spiked punch bowls at fraternity or sorority parties.

Schools that already have hard alcohol bans, such as Colby College state that hard alcohol bans lead to a reduction in the number of alcohol-related hospitalizations and blood-alcohol levels.

Also, colleges with party-school reputations believe that bans will prove they take drinking seriously—especially within the Greek system.

The last argument for hard alcohol bans is that they will help reduce the instances of sexual assault on campus since most instances of sexual assault involve drinking.

The Arguments AGAINST Hard Alcohol Bans

Critics argue that students will ignore the hard alcohol bans and continue drinking—especially since the bans will be difficult to enforce. Also, even if the bans are enforceable, students will simply move their drinking off campus, where they are more likely to get in a car and drive.

They also say that since the bans don’t include beer and wine, student still have access to alcohol. Except now they will be afraid to seek help when a friend is drunk for fear of disciplinary action—whether or not they will actually be reprimanded.

Finally, critics suggest that bans will also make sexual assault victims afraid to seek help for the same reasons—fear of getting in trouble. They also point out that victims might be scared of getting blamed for what happened because they might have violated the school’s hard alcohol policy.

The Importance of Alcohol Education

Whether or not your college is planning a ban on hard alcohol, there’s one thing that’s still necessary—alcohol education. Even if they are not drinking liquor on campus, students are still consuming alcohol, and they need to be aware of the dangers.

In fact, Bowdoin College attributes its low number of alcohol-related hospitalization to more than just its alcohol ban. Scott Hood, the college’s vice president for communications and public affairs, commented to Inside Higher Ed that the college’s alcohol ban “is combined with educational programming, open dialogue, enforcement, students looking out for one another and other measures, and we believe the practice has served Bowdoin and our students very well.”

To educate your students about the dangers and risks associated with drinking, learn more about our alcohol abuse prevention training.

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