A week after Dartmouth College President Phil Hanlon announced a ban on hard alcohol on the Hanover, New Hampshire campus, students at Yale have cast doubt on whether the new policy will be effective.
The ban is part of a sweeping effort to promote healthier drinking habits and improve campus culture. It will take effect this spring, and it was announced along with a slew of other initiatives, including a new housing system reminiscent of Yale’s, a rule requiring bartenders and bouncers at all social events and a mandatory four-year sexual violence prevention and education course for all students.
“All this will do is push the consumption of hard alcohol into more private confined spaces that will force students to drink more and more quickly in a really unhealthy way,” Haley Adams ’16 said. She added that she was wary of Hanlon’s decision to announce the hard alcohol ban at the same time as the sexual violence prevention course because it promotes the idea that alcohol is the cause of sexual assault.
“Vodka doesn’t sexually assault people: People do,” she said.
However, Darcy Tuttle ’16 said hard liquor is easily abused by people who are inexperienced with drinking, and that it is the substance that most often leads to alcohol poisoning and blackout situations leading to sexual assault.
Still, she said such a ban would only be worthwhile if it were well implemented and if it had a positive impact on the wellbeing on the student body.”
Aaron Berman ’16, a former resident of the Saybrook 12-Pack — a popular site for parties on campus — agreed with Adams and Tuttle that a ban on hard liquor might push students to use it more secretively. If a ban were implemented at Yale, Berman said, party hosts would be more concerned about not being caught with alcohol than about the well-being of their guests.
Branford College Master and School of Public Health professor Elizabeth Bradley said she believes the ban is not feasible.
“I’m shocked by it,” Bradley said. “I think it’s going to be impossible to implement, but I’m also really eager to see what happens. I’m glad they’re doing it because we can learn a lot from it, but I’m really wondering how they’re going to pull it off.”
Adams said it would be very difficult to implement a hard alcohol ban at Yale because of Yale’s location in New Haven. Unlike Yale’s urban setting, Dartmouth is situated in rural New Hampshire.
“It’s even harder to limit hard alcohol consumption when everybody who lives in New Haven is allowed to have it,” she said.
Yale revised its alcohol policy last May, when the Yale College Dean’s Office clarified an existing rule that alcohol-related medical emergencies would not be treated as disciplinary matters and that students treated for alcohol incidents would have to undergo mandatory health counseling.
Adams said she agreed with Yale’s stance on alcohol as a medical rather than disciplinary issue. She said that though there is external pressure on Yale to match the approaches of peer schools with more disciplinary approaches to alcohol, she does not believe that Yale would take Dartmouth’s approach.
Adams added that she believes the hard alcohol ban was an attempt to cut back on Dartmouth’s reputation for having a school culture dominated by Greek life and drinking.
In addition to the hard alcohol ban, next fall Dartmouth freshmen will also be housed in one of six residential communities, in order to create a campus that is more inclusive and cohesive, Hanlon said in his address to the school community.
Dartmouth has a much larger Greek presence on campus than Yale, with 30 fraternities and sororities compared to Yale’s 13. According to Dartmouth’s website, 51 percent of students are involved in Greek life.