Will Dartmouth’s New Policy Curb the Binge Drinking Problem on Campus?
It is undeniable that binge drinking is a problem on many, if not most, university and college campuses across the country. More than eight out of 10 college students drink alcohol, and of those young adults, nearly half report binge drinking within the last two weeks. Some may claim that drinking so much in a short amount of time is an unavoidable rite of passage or goes hand-in-hand with today’s party culture at many colleges. However, such excessive drinking is associated with many negative consequences, including academic problems and lower grades, physical and sexual assault, rape, impaired memory function and death.
A small handful of colleges and universities have taken steps in recent years to proactively address the issue of binge drinking on their campus. As of last Thursday, Dartmouth College joined other schools like Bates and Bowdoin Colleges on a short list of academic institutions that no longer allow hard alcohol on campus, even for undergraduates above the legal drinking age of 21.
Dartmouth President, Phil Hanlon, noted in the announcement of his new plan, “Moving Dartmouth Forward,” that the college will enforce the hard liquor rules by:
- Adding more safety and security officers
- Implementing stricter penalties for student possession
- Training residential life staff to complete “rounds” in dorms on Wednesday through Saturday nights, when drinking is more common
All of these actions, plus new policies developed to address the issues of sexual assault on Dartmouth’s campus, were created in hopes of offering a “safe and healthy campus environment in which students can live, learn, and reach their full potential.”
CASAColumbia commends Dartmouth College and President Hanlon for taking the issue of binge drinking and sexual assault seriously enough to implement a widespread new policy on campus. These problems are multifaceted and, as we have demonstrated in a previous blog, one cannot be addressed without simultaneously addressing the other.
In our report, Wasting the Best and the Brightest: Substance Abuse at America’s College and Universities, we implored college administrators and trustees to take action by changing the prevailing drinking culture on campus, implementing and enforcing effective policies, and educating students about the harms of underage and excessive alcohol use. It is our hope that other university presidents will follow President Hanlon’s example and begin to change their own campus climates in ways that will have an impact on the public health crisis of underage drinking, rather than taking minimal steps of no real consequence or turning a blind eye to the problem.
We are interested in hearing what you think about the issue of binge drinking on college campuses. Take our newest poll and let us know if you believe anything can be done to stop it.
Brean Flynn, MA
Brean Flynn is a Research Associate at CASAColumbia