Dartmouth College Bans Hard Alcohol On Campus

By McCarton Ackerman 01/30/15

University President Phil Hanlon cited hospital visits, not sexual assaults, as the motivation behind the ban.

Dartmouth in the snow

The President of Dartmouth College has confirmed that the Ivy League school will ban both hard alcohol and pledging into fraternities as part of its attempt to cut down on student binge drinking.

The ban, which comes into effect on March 30, applies to liquor that is 15% alcohol or greater. It applies to both student possession and all campus-sponsored events and will be accompanied by increased penalties for possession of hard alcohol and providing alcohol to minors, although the college declined to state what those penalties would be.

Dartmouth President Phil Hanlon didn’t directly link drinking to the widely reported incidents of sexual assaults on various college campuses across the country, but justified the ban by saying that binge drinking with hard liquor can lead to emergency room visits.

"The Steering Committee found that high-risk drinking is far too prevalent on our campus,” he said in a speech this past Tuesday. “The vast majority of alcohol-induced medical transports, it is hard alcohol—rather than beer or wine—that lands students on a hospital gurney."

Dartmouth also drew national attention last year when a student wrote in the college newspaper about his fraternity’s extreme form of hazing towards pledges. College officials chalked this behavior up to “pre-gaming,” or getting intoxicated before a party, and said they will draft codes of conduct for fraternities, campus organizations, and individual students.

Hanlon also pledged to create new spaces for social activities as an alternative to Greek life, in addition to offering students more extensive training on how to prevent sexual assault. And while he stopped just short of banning Greek life on campus, he vowed that “if the Greek system as a whole does not engage in meaningful, lasting reform, we will revisit its continuation on campus.”

Other campuses have taken unique measures to try and prevent potentially fatal binge drinking. Since 2013, Penn State has paid out $5,000 to 34 local bars and restaurants ($170,000 total) to not serve alcohol on St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.