Drinking Age

Dartmouth To Give Hard Alcohol Prohibition the Old College Try

It won't work.

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Animal House
Animal House

Dartmouth College will prohibit students from drinking hard liquor on campus—even booze purchased legally by 21-year-olds. Dartmouth President Philip Hanlon told The Washington Post:

"The evidence is clear: Hard alcohol is posing a serious threat to the health and safety of our campus," Hanlon said in a prepared speech he planned to deliver Thursday morning on the campus in Hanover. Most of the time when alcohol causes a medical problem, he said, "it is hard alcohol — rather than just beer or wine — that lands students on a hospital gurney."

Hanlon continued: "We do not need hard alcohol at Dartmouth. In fact, many students have suggested it shouldn't be here. Beginning today, Dartmouth will take a lead among colleges in dealing with hard alcohol on campus. Hard alcohol will not be served at events open to the public — whether the event is sponsored by the college or by student organizations. Penalties for students found in possession of hard alcohol will ramp up. And so will penalties for those who purchase and provide any alcohol to minors."

I agree that alcohol abuse is a serious problem at Dartmouth and other college campuses—and a key factor in sexual assault accusations—but why on earth would anyone expect a return to Prohibition fix the issue? For most students, abusing hard liquor is already prohibited—not by some stupid school rule, but by the law, under penalty of fines, community service, and even jail time. Why does Hanlon think he can achieve something the police have failed to accomplish for decades?

Telling teens not to drink hard alcohol is akin to daring them to do it anyway—especially at a party school like Dartmouth (fun fact: as a Dartmouth undergrad, Hanlon was a brother at the fraternity that inspired the movie Animal House). Want to make teen alcohol abuse even more dangerous, unpredictable, and outside the purview of authority figures? Try even harder to stamp it out.

Such an approach is pushy, draconian, and infantilizing. And it won't work.

For an alternative, libertarian solution to the binge drinking crisis, read my feature for Reason's Congressional to-do list, "Congress, End the Hangover: Abolish the Federal Drinking Age."

NEXT: Nope, Charter Schools Aren't Driving Away Problem Kids

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  1. It’s a little dated (especially the ending), but it’s still worth a watch. The funny parts are still pretty funny.

  2. Hanlon said in a prepared speech he planned to deliver Thursday morning on the campus in Hanover. Most of the time when alcohol causes a medical problem, he said, “it is hard alcohol ? rather than just beer or wine ? that lands students on a hospital gurney.”

    You know, wine can be as much as 14% abv, compared to just 5% for most beer. So, I don’t know where he gets off saying that wine is okay but spirits are not.

    1. A port can be as high as 18-20%. Doghead Fish 120 Minute IPA (a beer) is 18%. Barleywine beers run 10-12%.

      1. Doghead Fish. LOL.

        1. HAHAHAHAHA good catch, I guess I’m more dyslexic than I thought.

      2. Well, it is any Ivy League school, so I imagine port is pretty common at most campus tailgating.

        1. Ivy League. Tailgating… with a batch of toonies and sweaters tied around their necks?

    2. Wine is what he thinks the civilized members of the faculty drink (ie. the NPR set). Hard Liquor is for barbarians and right wing conservatives who managed to get jobs in the engineering dept.

      1. Yeah, I’ve never understood wine.

    3. To know-it-alls like Hanlon, all beer is like Budweiser and all wine is okay because rich people collect it.

      1. “A wine fridge is more sophisticated than a kegerator.”

        /Hanlon

  3. So many adults really, really hate it when young people act…like young people, don’t they.

  4. Is this “binge drinking crisis” the same as the current “heroin epidemic” or the “meth epidemic” of the 90’s or the “crack baby epidemic” of the 80’s?

    1. Oh, it’s much worse, because it involves horrible substances that are actually (sorta) legal, and God knows what those kids will do with them. Ending up on gurneys, I guess….
      Sheesh

    2. And skiing at Park City was how awesome?

      1. Leaving Saturday – snow forecast is no bueno, but we’ll manage.

        1. Yeah, Snow past-cast, current-cast and forecast are double no bueno. It’s in the mid-fifties here and sunny. Temps were in the low 60s a couple of days ago. Clear skies, sun shining. This is february… in the pacific northwest. Maybe Al Gore was right.

    3. It’s worse, it’s the cause of rape culture.

  5. Sooo, you are a hot* naive 18 year old girl & you get invited over to someone’s dorm, have a couple of shots of Jaegermeister, and then he rapes you.

    Will the additional prohibition on hard alcohol consumption make you
    a) more likely to report the incident to the authorities, or
    b) more hesitant to report the incident to the authorities?

    I swear there is stupid, and then there is educational institution administrator levels of idiocy which is even stupider.

    *Lifetime insisted that she be hot rather than plain as a condition for fronting the money for production.

    1. The degree to which so many people–who are humans–do not understand human nature is chilling. I mean fuck, man, just think about it for two minutes. Think about the incentives. But nope. That is apparently too much for a majority of the human race.

      1. As Bill Cosby once quipped decades ago, intellectuals are people who go to classes to learn how to do what people do naturally.

    2. Will the additional prohibition on hard alcohol consumption make you
      a) more likely to report the incident to the authorities, or
      b) more hesitant to report the incident to the authorities?

      Dingdingdingding!

    3. You left out choice c).

      c) more likely to report the incident to the authorities but lie about the type of alcohol you consumed so that if you actually do get fucked up on beer and wine you will claim you were fed whiskey.

  6. Penalties for students found in possession of hard alcohol will ramp up.

    Ramp up to what, double secret probation?

  7. The comical reversion to their puritanical beginnings is just sad.

    1. I wonder if they still ban liquor at places like Baylor or Oral Roberts or other bastions of right wing narrow-mindedness.

      I wonder if this question should be asked at Jezebel or HuffPo.

      1. Well they ban all alcohol on campus at UT. And yes, Baylor still bans all alcohol, not just liquor.

      2. I believe Baylor has dropped the ban on dancing though, so there’s that.

      3. Beginning today, Dartmouth will take a lead among colleges in dealing with hard alcohol on campus.

        Sounds to me like they are following the lead of Bible Belt campuses.

  8. Why does Hanlon think he can achieve something the police have failed to accomplish for decades?

    Because he’s an arrogant, socialist asshole.

    1. Why do you support campus rape?

    2. You left out “ignorant”, Finger.

      1. 1. I could forgive ignorance.

        2. He isn’t ignoring anything, he actually believes he is smarter than anyone else.

        1. Yeah, but he can only believe in his own superiority, and the likelihood that this little campaign will succeed, by being epically ignorant.

  9. it is hard alcohol ? rather than just beer or wine ? that lands students on a hospital gurney

    How many Dartmouth students have wound up on a hospital gurney because of hard alcohol dranked by Dartmouth students, anyway?

  10. The alt tag has left me saddened. Robb, you need to watch the movie. You really need to watch the movie.

    You really need to watch the movie!!!

    1. It’s one of the funniest movies ever. Go and watch the whole thing now.

  11. Is there a study that links lowered drinking age with less binge drinking? I get the theory, I’m just wonder if there is any data to back it up. My personal philosophy on drinking is the only restrictions should be placed by parents.

    1. Germany.

      1. But that would be partially cultural I would think. Then again if drinking age was lowered here there might be a cultural shift too.

    2. There was a study done using Italians that showed lowered binge drinking among college students there. Basically if you’ve been drinking a glass of wine with dinner at home or out in a restaurant, you’ve removed the allure of “drinking” once you get to college.

      WRT Germany, McDonalds serves beer there and in a number of European countries, as the drinking age is 14 there and buying age is 16

  12. Dartmouth kind of shrieks passive aggressive when they want to. After all as the last Ivy to admit women, when they did, they didn’t really expand. They simply made it a trimester system to make it much harder for everyone

  13. Hard alcohol will not be served at events open to the public

    Anyone want to bet that the president’s soirees with the folks who endow buildings will be dry?

  14. Repeal Amendment-XXI!

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