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How Do the Ivies Stack Up on Alcohol Enforcement?

Reader Joe Asch ‘79 does the math on alcohol enforcement among the Ivies; he notes a tremendous difference in Dartmouth’s enforcement versus that of its peers. Mr. Asch writes:

Dartmouth students have long taken a perverse pride in their capacity to drink. Way back in the day, Playboy Magazine listed the Top Ten drinking schools—and Dartmouth did not make the list: an asterisk in the story’s headline noted that Playboy excluded the College from the tally because our students were “too professional” in their drinking to fairly compete with the amateurs of other institutions.

However, today the question arises as to why Dartmouth students are cited for alcohol violations at a rate almost four times the Ivy average? As the above chart shows, no school comes close to the infractions punished by the Wright administration. From these figures we can draw two possible conclusions:

1. Dartmouth students drink radically more than the Ivy League average; or,

2. The Dartmouth administration is at war with its students and enforces the alcohol laws with incomparable harshness.

Which is it? Well, the College’s level of drug law violations are also close to triple the Ivy average, and if anything, drug use in Hanover is well below that of other schools. I mean, seriously, do Dartmouth kids do drugs three times as much as undergrads at Brown?

So I go with option #2. Safety and Security’s draconian efforts (dorm sweeps, flashlights in the face on Webster Avenue, writing up 20-year-olds when they blow an 0.03% BAC) have no equivalent at the other Ivies. Students from our sister schools are first amazed and then aghast when told that they shouldn’t run the risk of venturing into a dorm hallway beer in hand.

Beyond that, simple observation on any Saturday night will show that the Dartmouth administration’s alcohol reduction efforts have been effective only in punishing students; enforcement has not reduced the use of alcohol.

Summary: Dartmouth’s expensive, bureaucratic, punitive and ultimately ineffective policy on student drinking needs be changed. Welcome to Hanover, Dean Crady!

One is reluctant to blame the Safety and Security officers themselves; rather, the policies they are instructed to enforce are, as Asch writes, manifestly draconian. The curious thing is that one never seems able to ascertain just who writes these policies—they simply twinkle down unbidden from the firmament, unalterable without the agreement of a thousand committees.

View even more alcohol and drug enforcement statistics here (XLS) or without downloading a file here.

UPDATE: The Dartmouth Review had more on this topic in a recent issue.

UPDATE: Dan Linsalata e-mails to note that Playboy did two such lists, the details of which may be seen here.


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