Dartmouth College President Philip Hanlon announced a campus-wide ban on hard liquor as one of the first steps in a plan to combat “high-risk drinking, sexual assault and lack of inclusivity” at the New Hampshire school, this past Thursday, Jan. 29. While these are undeniably admirable goals, the methods that Dartmouth’s administration is employing are questionable at best.
The liquor ban, effective March 30, will apply to all students on campus, regardless of whether they meet the legal drinking age. Dartmouth College is not alone in facing alcohol-related sexual assault, hazing and hospitalizations. Such an issue is pertinent on any college campus.
Dartmouth is not the first university to attempt such a ban; Colby College and Bates College, for example, have imposed new rules that ban hard liquor at certain university functions and events but have been ineffective in lowering alcohol-related student hospitalizations nevertheless. The same atmosphere exists on the Hilltop. Any student on campus is likely to recall a friend being transported to the hospital by GERMS on a weekend night.
Thus, given the ease with which underage college students acquire alcohol, not just in Hanover but on most collegiate campuses nationwide, there is no reason to believe Dartmouth’s attempt will be any more successful than its predecessors’.
However, The Moving Dartmouth Forward Presidential Steering Committee, a group of faculty, staff and alumni convened to analyze the current situation involving student consumption of alcohol and determine a course of action, seem to disagree.
This initial restriction is not Hanlon and his committee’s only expected social and academic reform. In his speech last week, Hanlon also announced that Greek life on Dartmouth’s campus would no longer be allowed to conduct a pledge process for new members, and other changes will likely be announced in the near future. How effective these additional changes will be in combating the underlying high-risk drinking culture remains to be seen.
Although President Hanlon has his school’s and his students’ best interests at heart, it appears doubtful that banning hard liquor on campus will be an effective tool to combat the hazardous aspects to social life on campus.