Kenyon’s current approach to parties and underage drinking sensibly recognizes that drinking will occur and does what it can to ensure that it occurs responsibly; the Collegian hopes any updates that are made to College party policy will retain this spirit. A new committee has been formed, headed by Associate Dean of Students Tacci Smith, to review Kenyon’s party policy, and though it’s met only once, any changes it makes will be widely felt.
The New York Times hosted a discussion in its Opinions pages titled “You Must Be 21 to Drink?” (Feb. 10, 2015) in response to the hard alcohol ban recently enacted at Dartmouth College. Kenyon’s own President Emerita S. Georgia Nugent, who has long been an advocate for lowering the drinking age, wrote that “when it is legal for an 18-year-old to drive, marry or serve in the military but illegal for him or her to drink a beer, the illogic of the situation is patent. As a result, the overwhelming response of young people has been, not compliance, but contempt for the law.” Nugent’s disagreement with current drinking laws was reflected in the culture established by her presidency.
The Dartmouth ban, a result of alcohol-related incidents on campus and mired in a history of Greek hazing and sexual assault, may make sense for that institution. But Kenyon has had no such catalyst, our record devoid of an alcohol-related death since 2005, though even that is too recent. There have been no official proposals of a hard alcohol ban at Kenyon, and we hope there never is. Banning hard alcohol could force its consumption underground and would thus be dangerous in addition to unnecessary.
The student handbook currently states that “it is [Kenyon’s] goal to support a campus culture in which severe intoxication is not acceptable.” What is more important, however, is that measures like the Good Samaritan Policy remain in place in the event that severe intoxication does occur.
The party policy review committee is looking for more members. Ideally, students from all corners of campus would be involved, and we urge anyone interested to join.