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Sylvia and Alcohol, Uh Oh

The D reports that Dean of the College Sylvia Spears will now be in charge of revamping the College’s Alcohol Management Policy. As we have seen, during Tom Crady’s tenure at Grinnell, where he set alcohol policy, there was a high level of tolerance/acceptance of underage student drinking. What will Sylvia do?

Seemingly she was not involved in setting alcohol policy at the University of Rhode Island (or any policy at all as far as I can tell), but the Clery Act liquor law violation stats demonstrate that URI is every bit as harsh as Dartmouth in enforcing the alcohol laws. Here are the comparative figures for the 2005-2007 period for school disciplinary proceedings relating to alcohol (per 1,000 students):

URI: 161
Dartmouth: 118
Brown: 42 (highest figure in the Ivy League, after Dartmouth)
Penn: 5 (lowest figure in the Ivy League)

To put ths information another way: at URI over 16% of all students were disciplined for alcohol violations in the 2005-2007 period; at Dartmouth the figure was 12%; Brown was 4.2% and Penn was 0.5%.

Interestingly, at URI only 17 students were arrested by the Kingston, R.I., police for alcohol infractions in this period; during these years the Hanover Po arrested 219 Dartmouth students. It is pretty clear that the URI campus police do not turn student over to the authorities with any frequency. (A question for another day: how many of these students truthfully answered the question on their law school application as to whether they had ever been charged with a crime? For example, see page 3, question 6 of the NYU Law application).

So it seems that Sylvia could go both ways on the alcohol issue. She can lead the College towards the understanding tolerance of alcohol shown by our Ivy sister schools, or she can continue the “hammer the little bastards” policy that is in place today at both Dartmouth and URI.

However, is the decision even hers to make? Or will she run into the same resistance to change that stymied Tom Crady? Or will President Kim step in and forcefully set policy? In the present administrative chaos at the College, your guess is every bit as good as mine.

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