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Dartmouth needs a student-led cultural shift, not a liquor ban

Ban hard liquor as a means of addressing the culture of over consumption on the Dartmouth campus? Ask any beer pong player what they think. Seems to me they'll shrug their shoulders, make a face, and get on with the game.

In fairness to President Hanlon I'm sure banning liquor on the Dartmouth campus is just one piece of a larger puzzle, and it should be. Actually, it's unfortunate that this one misguided response has overtaken all the others. Instead of a well thought out, data-driven comprehensive approach to changing campus culture, the inclusion of a liquor ban smacks only of desperation. Perhaps there is "evidence" of a problem but there is no clear "evidence" that a ban on liquor only on campus is the solution to Dartmouth's culture of over consumption.

The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility ( which is funded by America's leading distillers has explored the issue of addressing the culture of over consumption on campus through a national campaign to empower students to understand the negative consequences of their behavior and find their own voice on this issue. More than a thousand students across more than 150 campuses offered research-based communications plans to address this issue among their peers. Their willingness to call out bad behavior and create empowering messages spoke to fellow students in a language of their own. No two submissions were the same because they each reflected the unique culture of their own campus and their own unique perspective. More importantly, not one banned alcohol of any type as a means to address over consumption.

As the father of two college students I know that the party doesn't stop because the liquor stores close earlier than the corner store. The campus drinking culture is determined by many factors. The common denominator of them all, of course, is the students. To be successful, they have to decide they want to change the campus culture and decide how to go about it. Any parent of teens knows that turning this issue into a contest of wills will achieve little in the end. President Hanlon can't change the campus culture by executive fiat.

Ralph Blackman

President & CEO


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