In efforts to curb student misconduct because of excessive drinking, Dartmouth College announced a campus-wide ban on hard liquor Jan. 29 to take effect March 30, which prompted a national discussion regarding university alcohol policies, though no similar action will come from Georgetown.
Dartmouth President Philip Hanlon announced the policy change in a speech to faculty and students, citing a decision by the board of trustees of the New Hampshire university. The university is under investigation by the Department of Education for apparent mishandling of sexual assault cases and has been scrutinized for harsh hazing by its Greek organizations.
Kevin Kruger, president of NASPA, an organization of 14,000 student affairs administrators in higher education, expressed doubt at the effectiveness of Dartmouth’s approach in a statement released by the organization, expressing his belief that the issue of underage drinking is more worrisome than excessive alcohol consumption.
“[Students are] under 21 and it’s illegal to drink, period,” Kruger said in a statement.
Kruger also expressed doubt that city schools, like Georgetown and unlike Dartmouth, have much control over student alcohol use anyway.
“On an urban campus, it’s impossible,” Kruger said.
Dartmouth is not alone in its increasingly restrictive alcohol policy. Brown University issued a ban against alcohol at fraternities in January, the University of Virginia restricted hard alcohol at fraternity parties in November and Swarthmore College banned hard alcohol and drinking games at the beginning of this academic year, all for similar reasons.
In contrast to these tightening policies, recent changes at Georgetown reflect a liberalization in alcohol policy around campus.
In August 2013, the university launched the Outdoor Student Living Pilot Program, allowing students of age to drink in designated open spaces on campus.
The original pilot allowed students to drink beer or wine in the barbeque areas of Village A and Henle Village. In order to deter full parties from moving outdoors, the policy restricted groups to fewer than 15 students and prohibited kegs or hard liquor outside.
In November 2014, after GUPD and the Office of Residential Living cited minimal violations of the pilot program, the designated outdoor areas extended to Nevils, LXR, the Leavey Esplanade and the Alumni Square Courtyard.
Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson explained the reasons behind Georgetown’s policy.
“Georgetown takes a balanced approach to alcohol policies and student alcohol use. We acknowledge the realities of student social life, and take seriously our obligations to follow the law,” he wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Olson said emphasized a concern for safety as the top priority for university administrators.
“As we review and update our policies, we always begin with student safety and well-being as the top priorities. In recent years, we have adapted certain policies to allow students to socialize safely on campus,” Olson said.
He added that these decisions incorporate safety, laws and student input.
“Student input is taken seriously, and the concerns about legal compliance and student well-being are vital in those discussions as well,” Olson said.
Accordingly, Student Advocacy Office Co-Director Benjamin Manzione (SFS ’15) said that he did not expect a similar policy to be implemented at Georgetown.
“I’m not too familiar with the reasons behind the ban on hard alcohol at Dartmouth, but I am very confident that this change will not occur at Georgetown,” Manzione said.
SAO Co-Director Ryan Shymansky (COL ’16), a Georgetown University Student Association vice presidential candidate, added that he believes Georgetown policy changes align with 2010 Campus Plan requirements to encourage more social life on campus.
“These 180-degree alcohol policy changes were made to fulfill 2010 Campus Plan requirements, and really nothing more,” Shymanksy said. ”Party equity provisions in the 2010 Campus Plan actually required the University to liberalize on campus social policies to better align with off campus policies.”
Because of the domination of Dartmouth’s social scene by Greek life, hazing issues likely contributed to the administration’s strict bans. According to The Wall Street Journal, Hanlon created a task force to address the issue after a series of sexual assault accusations resulted in a 14 percent drop in applications.
Caroline Hughes (COL ’18) said she thinks Georgetown’s lack of Greek organizations makes alcohol abuse less of a campus issue.
“I think not having Greek life makes our alcohol consumption on campus much lower because there isn’t hazing and as much pressure to drink as much and as often,” she said.
Hughes added that she does not think Dartmouth’s policy will be effective in curbing student alcohol use.
“I don’t think banning hard alcohol will do anything for Dartmouth except possibly increase people’s amount of binge drinking and make the relationship between students and administration less transparent,” she said.
This article has been updated.