Bates, Bowdoin compare bans
Despite the ban, some students continue to consume hard alcohol.
Ever since the Campus Culture Working Group’s original proposal of the hard alcohol ban in the Fall of 2009, the College’s alcohol-related hospitalization statistics have been a hot topic among students. While we’ve heard the numbers for our own school, how do we stack up against our biggest rivals, Bates and Bowdoin?
This is the one context in which we don’t want to beat our competitors, yet we crush them. Colby has recorded around 300 hard-alcohol related hospitalizations since the 2004-2005 school year, including eight hospitalizations during the first weekend of the current school year alone.
Bowdoin, which has recorded fewer than 20 hospitalizations each school year over the last five years, has maintained a ban on hard alcohol since the 1990s. The ban also covers popular drinking games such as beer pong and Beirut.
“The vast majority of these transports are due to consumption of hard alcohol as opposed to consumption of only beer and wine,” Associate Dean of Student Affairs and Director of Residential Life Mary Pat McMahon said. “Hard alcohol is prohibited at Bowdoin, as are drinking games, which encourage the rapid ingestion of alcohol.”
Bowdoin’s Dean of Student Affairs, Dean Foster, supported his school’s hard alcohol ban in a recent issue of the Bowdoin Orient, stating, “I can almost guarantee you that if we allowed hard alcohol on campus as common-source alcohol, we would see many, many more people almost instantaneously going to the hospital for hard alcohol poisoning.”
Students at Bowdoin seem to be just as split on their school’s ban as Colby’s students are about the College’s new policy. Bowdoin senior Oronde Cruger was quoted in the Orient defending the ban: “Even a couple of years ago I was on the opposite side [of the ban]...it’s easier to confiscate alcohol when you have a real reason to.” Sophomore Karoline Dubin was more doubtful, citing a possible negative consequence of Bowdoin’s ban: “When you put a ban on hard alcohol, it encourages people who drink anyway to drink in a more secretive manner.”
Bates also has a ban on hard alcohol in place that was originally implemented in 2001. The college saw 42 hospitalizations for alcohol poisoning during the 2006-2007 school year, 30 in 2007-2008, 28 in 2008-2009 and 44 hospitalizations last year.
“While Bates has had a hard alcohol ban for a number of years now, I still think it effectively lowers the hospitalization rate,” Chief of Service of Bates Emergency Medical Services Meg Curran said. “The hard alcohol ban seems to keep students from getting dangerously drunk and tends to make students drink more socially and move around versus throwing back shots in their rooms.”
Although the ban seems to have had a positive effect on students’ well being, hard alcohol is still present on Bates’ campus. “I’d say that the majority of our hospitalizations due to alcohol do involve hard alcohol. However, the ratio of transports to EMS calls regarding intoxicated patients has fallen significantly since the implementation of the ban,” Curran said.
Simone Pathe, Editor-In-Chief of the Bates Student, agreed that the ban goes both ways. “The hard alcohol ban does not mean that there’s no hard alcohol on campus. There’s probably less than there was before, but it certainly still has a presence.”
While many have called into question the appropriateness of the College’s ban, students will have to wait to see what its long-term impact is. Bates and Bowdoin have had great success with their bans; hopefully the College is going down that path as well.