Students React to Hard Alcohol Ban
The Student Government Association (SGA) worked to revise the policies regarding infractions of the newly implemented hard alcohol ban for the 2010-11 school year last Tuesday, April 20. Since learning about the ban, students expressed their views and began to consider how the new policy will affect the drinking culture on campus.
Rather than "just punishing the students," the Board of Trustees should "give us something back[such as less restriction on] open containers or registered kegs," Malcolm Kerr '13 said. "[The ban] puts us far behind Bates and Bowdoin as far as a progressive policy. It's more limiting."
Maureen Quinn '12 cited the contentious issue of medical amnesty as her main concern regarding the ban.
"I completely understand and appreciate what the administration is trying to do for Colby. What I worry about is students not wanting to get their friends in trouble," she said. "Because the health center is no longer open on weekends, if someone needs care, the hospital is the only place for them to go. As a non-medical professional, it's a difficult position to be in, determining whether your friend needs help enough to call for it or whether it's something they can probably just sleep off."
The ban stems from the number of hospitalizations related to hard alcohol over the past school year.
"I don't think a court summons is enough to keep people away from the hospital, but I think getting kicked out of school is," Quinn said. "I believe that the school needs to offer some sort of amnesty to students who go to the hospital because I don't want students possibly sacrificing the health of their friends, thinking that the friend does not absolutely need help, because they do not want that friend to face suspension."
However, the fact that the College sent 50 students to the hospital during the 2009-10 school year because of alcohol-related illness raises a greater issue, Charlotte Wilder '11 said.
"I understand we all have our bad nights, but I think that realizing it's a problem needs to be the first thing, because it is a problem," she said. "You can't use the argument 'work hard, play hard' anymore, because if playing hard means waking up in a hospital bed with IVs in your arm and no idea how you got there, that's far from fun. It's no fair to the people who love you and got you to where you are now."
Students who prefer hard alcohol over other forms of alcohol should re-consider their choices, Wilder said.
"If you're a girl and you need to drink so much that the calories in beer and wine become an issue so that you need to drink hard alcohol not to get fat, then there's a bigger issue at hand."
The SGA will continue to educate students on the premises of the ban, working with Justin Rouse, the SGA's publicity chair, SGA President-elect Leslie Hutchings '11 said.
"One of his jobs will be communicating policies such as this one to the student body," she said. In the coming weeks, SGA members will distribute revised copies of the policy in students' mailboxes and relay the information electronically to faculty and staff.
The most critical stage of the ban's implementation will occur when students return to the Hill for the first few weeks of classes next fall, students said.
"I'm worried as to how it would work out at the beginning with all the parties going on at Loudness," Patrick Martin '13 said. "I thought [the ban] was extreme."
Only time will determine the ban's effectiveness on campus. "At the meeting, Dean Terhune kept citing 'statistics' that 'proved' that my point was not a concern, but I think all we need is one incident to show that it should have been a concern," Quinn said.
In the fall, security officers will attend dorm meetings to address students' concerns. Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students James Terhune will remind students of the policy through e-mail over the summer, Hutchings said.
While the ban may have come as a shock to some students, Hutchings believes it will only form a safer community on the Hill in terms of alcohol use.
"I think people will be surprised [with how little has changed]. I really don't think it will change a whole lot, except decreasing dangerous drinking," she said.
The fact that the College sends more students to the hospital annually than any other NESCAC school shows "our drinking culture isn't normal," Wilder said. "The majority of people don't do this in the real world or in college."