By Jana Persky
In a reversal of last year’s experimental and unpopular policy, hard alcohol will not be banned from campus during the 2013 summer session.
“It’s going to be the same alcohol policy that’s enforced during the regular year,” said Jess Matthews, senior associate dean of summer session.
During summer quarter last year, students—including those older than 21—were told that any alcoholic beverage with an alcohol content of 20 percent or greater would not be tolerated in dorms.
This stance was implemented despite the regular Stanford University Student Alcohol Policy, which states that “the University is especially concerned about the misuse of distilled alcohol products (‘hard alcohol’)” but does not explicitly prohibit hard liquor.
Matthews said that conversations with the campus community led to the decision to discontinue last summer’s pilot program.
“I really listen to feedback from my staff, from our students, from the Stanford community,” Matthews said. “We just decided that there were other ways that we could address the issue.”
Matthews said while some students believed the policy created a better academic environment, others were concerned about hindered communication during potentially dangerous situations in light of a policy that posited consequences for the possession of hard liquor.
“[Now], my hope is that students will feel okay reaching out to their staff if they are struggling, if their friends are struggling,” Matthews said. “If there’s a serious incident, my hope is that they feel really comfortable reaching out and getting the support that they need.”
Ralph Castro, director of the Office of Alcohol Policy and Education (OAPE), said that enforcing the same standards throughout the year supports the administration’s goals.
“Consistency and clarity are big things when we talk about policy,” Castro said. “I think having the same policy in the summer is good for clarity and consistency throughout the year, particularly for Stanford students but also for the visiting students as well.”
Castro noted that high school and visiting students live on campus alongside Stanford students over the summer, creating one reason for last year’s ban.
“We try to be a lot more vigilant about parties with alcohol and make sure that they’re not inviting high school people in,” Castro said. “But the college students that are here really understand that and they’re really vigilant about that.”
Both Castro and Matthews emphasized that the University continues to oppose high-risk behaviors, which often arise from drinking hard alcohol. Matthews said that the University would continue to offer alcohol-free programming and support for students who need it.
“We’re not at war with alcohol, we’re at war with high-risk drinking and related consequences.” Castro said, “So that’s what we’re trying to decrease—the negative aspects of it and not eliminate alcohol from campus.”