Going off to college is a big step in your life on many levels. Whether you’re close to home or not, there are a lot of changes that you make on personal, social and academic levels. A major part about going to college is the fact that there will be alcohol. A lot of parents worry about this because of the “pressure” that can be put on kids to drink. Sure, a lot of kids do drink on the weekends but there are a lot of kids that don’t. And each college campus has different rules set in place about alcohol tolerance.
I go to a super-small private liberal arts college in St. Petersburg, Florida. Eckerd has about 1900 students, all undergrad, and most live on campus. Eckerd has a high tolerance for their alcohol policy, which is something we as a school are open about.
Eckerd is a “wet” campus, which means that if you are 21 years or older, you are allowed to drink while on campus. But the college is pretty lenient about underage drinking – as long you have your beverage in a plastic cup you can carry it around. Students are not allowed to play drinking games, however, or smoke marijuana or do any other types of drugs.
At Eckerd, there is a Good Samaritan Policy so that students are more compelled to help themselves or others instead of running for fear of punishment. “Eckerd College pursues a policy of limited immunity for students who seek help for themselves and/or offer help to others in need. This means that whenever a student seeks medical aid for him/herself or another due to the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, the impaired student’s and the assisting student(s)’ behavior and/or conduct will be addressed by the College through education, assessment, and/or treatment” (Eckerd College Student Handbook, page 21). While this policy has shown an increased number of alcohol/drug reports on campus, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing since more people are willing to come forward and ask for help.
Every year though, I read in online or newspaper articles about young college kids that suffer from overdoses and die because other students either didn’t notice the person or because they were too afraid to call for help. Most college campuses are “dry” campuses, meaning that even if a student is over 21, they are not allowed to drink or possess alcohol on campus. However, whether or not a college is dry or not does not mean that there won’t be alcohol present on campus – usually it’s just a little more hidden or there are off-campus parties, which provide the risk of drinking and driving.
It is easy to find out if the colleges you are choosing from are dry or wet by reading the student handbooks or visiting and asking around. A Harvard study said that about one in three colleges or universities in America are dry campuses, but that does not mean that they are alcohol free. Universities such as Baylor, Dartmouth, University of Kansas, Mississippi State, and the University of Oklahoma are all dry campuses, partly in response to student deaths. If students want to drink, they will find ways to drink – either off campus at bars or house parties, or they will hide alcohol under beds and in drawers. Make sure that you do know the drug and alcohol policy of your school before you go, whether or not you are a drinker.
by Marlene Heynig