August 25 2016
We're all in favor of colleges and universities taking measures to prevent and punish alcohol abuse on campus, but we're mystified by the byzantine new set of rules Stanford is adopting.
Stanford, you see, is acting as if it is the bartender:
You won’t find hard alcohol at Stanford University parties anymore. At least, that’s what school officials are hoping.
In an effort to reduce “the high risk of the rapid consumption of hard alcohol,” the university is banning liquors that are 20 percent alcohol by volume (40 proof) from undergraduate campus parties, while also prohibiting undergraduate students from having hard-alcohol containers that are 750 milliliters or larger in student residences. Student who are of legal age can still drink beer and wine.
The new policy is a “harm reduction strategy,” explained Ralph Castro, director of the Office of Alcohol Policy and Education, in a press release. He adds:
Our intention is not a total prohibition of a substance, but rather a targeted approach that limits high-risk behavior and has the backing of empirical studies on restricting the availability of and access to alcohol. It also allows us the ability to provide uniformity in a policy that will impact all undergraduate students without banning a substance that is legal for a segment of the student population to use responsibly.
By limiting the size of containers to anything less than the size of a wine bottle (capable of pouring out around 17 shots), the university is hoping to reduce alcohol consumption through availability and cost: There are fewer stores that sell hard alcohol in smaller containers, and if students find smaller containers of hard alcohol it costs more to buy those in high quantities.
This is getting into too much detail and demands an answer to the question: Why is wine fine and hard liquor not? The aim should be responsible drinking, not following Michael Bloomberg's soda size regulations.
This sets up a system whereby graduate students, some too old to even be on their parents' health insurance policy, can't order a cocktail at a dinner. This is regulation run amok: Nanny should demand sensible rules and punish those who drink irresponsibly, but she herself should be sensible: she should not seek to become the campus bartender.
The new regulations are in response to the Brock Turner sexual assault for which the young man was given a stunningly light sentence. Alcohol was blamed for the assault. I have two suggestions: tell the authorities at Stanford that wine can make you just as drunk as hard liquor and then refuse to give a guy a light sentence if he says, "Drink made me do it."
But don't turn the university into a bartender..