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Has A Decade of SEMP Had Any Effect on Drinking?

Recently the D published a review of the different alcohol regimes afflicting long-suffering Dartmouth students, and this page opined that the student paper of record had omitted to ask the salient question: whether the various regulatory structures put in place by the administration over the past decade had had any actual effect on student drinking.

No response has been forthcoming, so Dartblog will take a stab at doing the Editors’ work for them.

The State Liquor Commission keeps tabs on total state-wide sales of beer through beverage manufacturers, wholesale distributors, and brew-pubs. Sales by volume for the past decade have been relatively flat, as follows:

Alcohol NH 1999-2009.jpg

Source: Alan Pinkham, State Liquor Commission, Concord, NH 03302

The slight dip in sales after the millennium seems to reflect the bust of the bubble and the 9/11 economic disruption. Overall, sales of beer by volume rose by 7.8% between fiscal 1999 and 2009.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population in NH grew by 6.5% between April 1, 2001 and July 1, 2008, so it is safe to say that on a statewide basis, per capita consumption of beer did not change very much. This makes sense: there were no state-wide changes in alcohol policy or taxation during this period.

Locally, Jack Stinson of Stinson’s Village Store, official beverage purveyor to Dartmouth students since 1979, confirms that the progression of beer sales by volume at his establishment have been similarly smooth. Though he declined to offer exact volume figures, he believes that his sales in Hanover have tracked the overall state figures quite closely. Stinson has seen no effect on his sales — either short term or long term — from any of the different changes in the College’s policy over the course of the last decade.

That’s as good as I can do for today, but I think that it is safe to say that if trends in the sale of beer in NH and at Stinson’s in Hanover are similar, then all of the arrests, College discipline and hand-wringing about alcohol policy over the past ten years have had no discernable effect on student drinking.

Allow me to ask another question of the D and the administration: How much time, effort and money was wasted over the past decade on the various iterations of SEMP?


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