Is a dry campus really safer than a wet one?

By Clay Parlette 


“The University of Findlay is a dry campus.” Nearly all prospective students will hear these words during their campus tour at Oiler Nation. It’s a policy that most certainly makes this campus more marketable to conservative families and more importantly, it’s a reflection of our University’s historic and deeply rooted Christian values.

On a personal level, it was a selling point for me in choosing a place to continue my education. I don’t think I was alone in thinking that attending a dry campus would give me a more fulfilling educational experience, with the apparent absence of parties, drunkenness, blasting music, and all-around stereotypical college shenanigans. Logic may tell you that by prohibiting alcohol, you will indeed establish a more focused and safe learning environment that is more suited to promote a sober way to have fun on the weekends. And while this policy may have worked well in the past, it has increasingly become problematic as we enter a new cultural age.

The problem with stating, “this is a dry campus” is the degree of naivety associated with the issue. While the policies are duly enforced and while on paper we do proclaim to prohibit all forms of alcohol and its paraphernalia on our grounds, at some point, reality closes in. If the University was truly dedicated to an alcohol-free lifestyle, there must be more to the policy than simply prohibiting its existence within its controllable area. Many people may tell you that laws and policies do not necessarily stop certain behaviors and in some cases may make some situations even more dangerous than they already were.

With the simple example of alcohol prohibition, our own government tried and realized the effects of such a law; while the activity became “illegal,” it still existed as a widespread “under the table” and often fatal operation. Our country found out in a very harsh way that people were going to purchase and consume their alcohol no matter what the government said, and thus, the Prohibition amendment was futile and was ultimately abandoned.

A much less dramatic model of this scenario can be found on our very own campus. What should a student do who wants to have a few drinks on the weekend? The options at UF are to drive (or somehow transport yourself) away from campus to a location without policy restriction OR smuggle it into your room and consume behind shuttered windows and locked doors. Especially in the first scenario, students are more likely to find themselves in dangerous situations including impaired driving.

It’s a fact that must be accepted, whether ugly or not, that some students are going to find a way to have their alcohol and it’s an opportunity that universities across the country have to offer support and safety. My own mother was the one who turned to me one day and, with a worried motherly look on her face, began to talk to me about alcohol abuse and drunk driving. “It concerns me,” she said, “that Findlay is a dry campus because I know that students will drive off campus to have alcohol and will then try to drive back home late into the night.” I’m not at all advocating for a freely wet campus atmosphere, but I am suggesting that by lifting the actual ban on alcohol, students may find themselves in a safer place. I remember reading a statement from a University leader claiming that the new hybrid police/security force being implemented next semester was not going to target students for petty things like alcohol violations. In my opinion, this is the right attitude to have about the situation. The University should question: is the complete prohibition of alcohol still the right path to go? Perhaps “wet with restrictions” may be appropriate.

My final thought on the issue is that UF is special because of who we are. We’re special for our history, our values, and our culture and it is my belief that we will not lose this culture with the amendment of an alcohol policy. Loosening the ban will not turn us into an OU, but rather, may provide a better opportunity to keep students safe and provide appropriate resources for those who need it. After all, turning a blind eye to a problem isn’t exactly a sound solution. Perhaps our leaders should reevaluate if their rule is still today doing more good than harm.



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