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Ivies change alcohol policies to curb dangerous behavior

Crafting a comprehensive plan is key when creating a safer campus environment
University Business, March 2015

Dartmouth College has launched a new campaign to combat harmful student behavior, including sexual assault and high-risk drinking.

Under the “Moving Dartmouth Forward” plan, the Ivy League school will no longer serve hard alcohol (30 proof or higher) on campus and will increase penalties for underage students found in possession of hard alcohol. Also in the works:

  • a four-year mandatory sexual violence prevention and education program for students
  • sexual assault training for faculty and staff
  • a new code of conduct for all students
  • a new housing model

Officials will reinforce expectations for student groups, including Greek organizations, and hold them to higher standards and academic rigor.

Dartmouth has seen a rise in reported sexual assault incidents in recent years, from 16 in 2011 to 35 in 2013, according to Clery Report data.

The new initiatives will “pave the way to a campus that is safer and free of extreme behaviors,” Dartmouth President Phil Hanlon said in late January when he announced the policy. “But true and lasting change will not come from top-down policies like these alone; it will come from individuals and organizations committing to living up to a higher standard of behavior.”

Dartmouth’s actions came nearly two weeks after Brown University imposed a temporary, spring-semester alcohol ban targeting Greek life, after two reports of sexual assault occurred at fraternity house parties last fall. During the ban, Brown plans on reviewing its alcohol policy and social event regulations to promote a safer environment on campus.

Crafting a comprehensive plan is key when creating a safer campus environment, says Sarah Van Orman, president of the American College Health Association.

“Student drinking and other high-risk behaviors are complex issues that college campuses have been struggling with for a long time,” says Van Orman, also executive director of health services at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “To be successful, plans like Dartmouth’s need to go beyond the hot button issues to build student engagement and education for a more inclusive campus."

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