Dartmouth bans hard liquor, takes steps to prevent rape

AP News
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Posted: Jan 29, 2015 6:22 PM
Dartmouth bans hard liquor, takes steps to prevent rape

HANOVER, N.H. (AP) — Dartmouth College banned hard liquor on campus Thursday and said all students will have to take part in a sexual violence prevention program all four years they are at the Ivy League school.

Dartmouth has long tried to move past its hard-partying reputation, but the latest steps come amid a national furor over sexual assault on college campuses and the role drinking plays in such violence.

"Colleges and universities across the country face the issues I've detailed today," President Philip Hanlon said. "We are not alone in facing them, but we will take the lead in saying, 'No more.'"

Other colleges, including Colby, Bates and Bowdoin in Maine, have banned hard liquor on campus. Dartmouth officials said the school will be the first in the Ivy League to take such a step, and the first college or university aside from military academies to require four-year sexual violence prevention education.

Many colleges require students to take part in one-time programs, almost always during their freshman year.

Dartmouth, which partly inspired the 1978 comedy "Animal House," received nationwide attention for allegations of fraternity hazing several years ago, and it is one of 95 schools under federal investigation over its handling of sexual harassment and violence. Students protested at Hanlon's office last spring with a long list of demands aimed at creating a more inclusive, diverse campus.

The plan Hanlon presented Thursday was the product of the Moving Dartmouth Forward committee created in April to study problems the president said were "hijacking" the school's promise: high-risk drinking, sexual assault and a lack of inclusion.

In addition to banning hard liquor starting with the new term at the end of March and implementing the sexual violence prevention program, the plan ends pledge or probationary periods for all student groups and creates new residential communities.

Sexual assault on college campuses has been in the spotlight as students and the federal government demand stricter policies and stronger enforcement.

Dartmouth recently overhauled its policies to include harsher sanctions and a trained external expert to investigate allegations. It will expand on that with the new mandatory program, an online "consent manual" on sexual behavior and a smartphone app to allow students to seek help if they feel threatened, Hanlon said.

On the alcohol front, Hanlon said education programs launched in the past few years have started to pay off, but the practice of "pregaming" — loading up on hard alcohol before heading out for the night — remains a problem.

In addition to prohibiting the possession or consumption of hard alcohol — 30 proof or higher — by students, the new policy includes increased penalties for violators.

Sophomore Isaac Green said he largely agrees with Hanlon's plans, including the ban on hard alcohol.

"I don't think Dartmouth's problems are any worse than anyone else's, but I don't think that absolves us from addressing them," he said. "In a lot of ways, our problems are less severe than in a lot of other places, but we're in Hanover, we're an Ivy League institution and we have the microscope upon us."

Although some have suggested eliminating fraternities and sororities, the committee said its examination of other schools found no connection between misconduct and the intensity of the Greek scene.

However, Hanlon said Greek organizations at Dartmouth will be held to much higher standards from now on. The Greek organizations and all student organizations will undergo annual reviews to ensure they are being inclusive and diversifying their membership.

No student organization will be allowed to engage in pledging or putting new members on probationary status — a move fraternities and sororities made this fall.

Hanlon said one of the biggest changes will be the creation of new housing arrangements designed to give students more options for both social interaction and learning outside the classroom.

Starting with the class of 2019, students will be placed into one of six communities that will include a cluster of residence halls that will serve as a home base even for those who live elsewhere. Each community will have a faculty adviser and graduate students in residence and will host social and academic programs.

Allison Moskow, a 1985 Dartmouth graduate whose son graduated last year, was optimistic about Hanlon's plans, particularly the overhaul of the residential system.

"To really look at residential life and offer alternatives to walking through Greek doors is nothing new but essential," she said. "There are campuses around the world that encourage learning and fun, and there's no reason why Dartmouth can't do that."