Dartmouth amends alcohol policy, cites Colby

On March 30, Dartmouth College will begin to enforce a hard alcohol ban as a part of their “Moving Dartmouth Forward” plan. Dartmouth President Philip J. Hanlon included the ban as part of an initiative to decrease incidences of sexual assault, high-risk drinking and the exclusion of certain groups on campus. In adopting this policy, Dartmouth follows in the footsteps of many small colleges, such as Colby, Bowdoin and Bates.
This initiative comes on the heels of the release of the book “Confessions of an Ivy League Frat Boy,” written by Dartmouth alum Andrew Lohse, which describes the hazing rituals of some fraternities on the Hanover, NH campus. Additionally, Dartmouth has recently faced criticisms from student groups and national publications for its handling of hazing, sexual assault and racism on campus.
Hanlon is working to recreate the social structure of Dartmouth to be a more positive space for all students. With this in mind, Hanlon is hoping to increase accountability for both individuals and student groups, stressing that any group not acting accountable will not be allowed on campus. Fraternities and sororities were specifically warned that their existence at Dartmouth might be called into question if they do not make major reforms.
Another factor of “Moving Dartmouth Forward” is the implementation of a mandatory four-year sexual violence prevention and education program for students, paired with extensive training for faculty and staff on sexual assault. While Dartmouth is not the only college to face these issues, its prominence has led to much scrutiny from the media.
Colby student Carl Vitzthum ’16, who took part in the Dartmouth engineering program last semester, thinks that the ban will impact fraternities and sororities the most. Since fraternities regularly register their on-campus parties, the administration will likely be more diligent about keeping tabs on these parties to ensure that there are no violations of the newly instated rules.
Oliver Schreiner, a Dartmouth senior, noted in an interview, “everyone is now wondering how the policy is going to be enforced and what the punishments are going to be.”
Many news sources and Dartmouth officials have related the news to Colby’s alcohol policy. An article from CBS News on Jan. 31, 2015 explained Colby’s system in detail to exemplify the success that Dartmouth hopes to achieve.
Colby’s hard alcohol ban, enacted in 2010, was deemed necessary after 14 students were hospitalized in one night, following the traditional senior celebration “Champagne Steps” in May 2008. Following this event, campus administrators decided to not only cancel the event but also to implement a hard alcohol ban to help combat excessive drinking on the Hill.
College officials reported that incidences of student hospitalization due to excessive drinking are down 20 percent since the ban has been in effect.
Though hospitalizations from excessive drinking do still occur on campuses possessing hard alcohol bans, there has been a clear decrease in the overall trend. Dartmouth’s acknowledgment of this issue should be a step towards creating a safer campus for their students.

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