Dry Campus policy under fire

In order to combat underage drinking – especially binge drinking – UVM implemented a new dry halls policy banning alcohol in the residence halls, even for students of legal drinking age. The policy, devised last year by a task force organized by acting president John Bramley, came into effect this semester. “If this campus is seriously dry, then why does the University seek to make a profit off of selling beer mugs, shot glasses, and beer cozies at the bookstore?” UVM freshman Ben Guttridge said. “What’s next, bongs with UVM logos?” The policy means, “there is better enforcement, not more enforcement,” director of residential life, Stacey Miller, said Search for Cause, one stipulation of the policy that has met opposition by many students, “is a policy instituted to assist residential life when there are safety concerns,” Miller said. “There are situations when [student] privacy gets superceded by health and safety concerns.” Many students are skeptical of the policy. “It is not going to get anyone to stop drinking, it’s just going to get more kids in trouble,” Andrew Menke, a senior living off campus, saidMany students refer to the policy as ‘dry campus’ when, in fact, it is actually a dry residence halls policy.”It’s just the halls that are dry,” said Vivian de Jesus Garay, assistant dean for retention and assessment.According to Garay, UVM still serves alcohol at University sponsored events and is planning to put a pub in the Davis Student Center. This, however, has led some students to believe that the University is being hypocritical. “Last year’s spike in drug and alcohol violations made the University want to send a more consistent message. In the past, by making specific substance free halls and theme areas, it sent mixed messages that the other dorms were not substance free,” Garay said. “The University was sending an ambivalent message about alcohol,” Bramley said. While the student body may be stirring over the new policy, many forget that even without a dry halls policy, it is illegal for most students to drink alcohol. “The new policy only affects 400 people who are legally able to drink out of 4,800 students living in the residence halls,” John M. Hughes, UVM provost, said. “The policy really has no effect on underage drinkers. Who this policy is affecting is the 21-year-olds living on campus,” Miller said. “We are not the Gestapo.” Hughes, the former associate provost for research and dean of the graduate school at Miami University of Ohio, said that universities across the country are developing new strategies to combat binge drinking among students of all ages.Miami University, for example, has implemented a similar alcohol policy and is considering making more Friday classes to counter the effects of ‘thirsty Thursday.’During the first week of classes, many UVM students complained of an increased police presence in the halls and around campus. However, UVM police disagree. “The policy is no different than it has ever been. We are not doing any more or less than we’ve done in the past,” police Chief Gary Margolis said.”There are only three to four policemen on duty during the week, and five to six during the weekends,” Margolis said. “The University is not interested in moralizing about alcohol use. If we believed alcohol was bad, we would not be making a pub in the student center,” Vivian Garay said. “We want people to succeed here academically, but we have seen that alcohol and drug use have gotten in the way of that.”