Colleges Have Anti-Drinking Rules on the Books, but Which Ones Actually Work?” The conclusions of the study include:
Among strategies that work best, the researchers say, are prohibiting alcohol in public places on the campus (including sports arenas) and at student-organization recruitment events, as well as banning tailgating, drinking games, and alcohol delivery to the campus. Rules like that, the report’s authors say, not only restrict alcohol consumption but also are “likely to influence social norms around drinking.” Banning drinking at events like recruiting events in the fall “sets the normative tone for the school year.”
Also important, the study suggests: Make sure students know exactly what consequences will follow which infractions. And make sure they know that if they’re cited or arrested off campus by the local police, the college will be notified.
Penalties deemed to work best have a “strong, population-wide deterrent effect,” the report says. Those include “student-organization probation and loss of student-organization status.”
Less effective, but still useful as part of a “ ‘package’ of graduated sanctions,” are suspension and probation. “Because of their severity and the extended deliberative process often required to enforce them,” they “become less swift and certain.”
The University of Alabama’s alcohol policy, if strictly enforced, would certainly curtail illegal, under-aged drinking on campus.
Kafka’s article continues:
For students to heed colleges’ alcohol rules, they have to be able to find and understand them. That’s a problem. Alcohol policies for colleges in the Maryland group could generally be found by students within 30 seconds, although the rules were spread out across multiple locations instead of just one web page.
But colleges need to simplify the language in those policies. Even the clearest rules, the study found, “would be considered difficult, confusing, and best understood by someone with at least some college education.”
He points out that the success of enforcement strategies was “deemed beyond the scope of this study.”
This nationwide problem will only be successfully dealt with when individual educational institutions begin to access how they are enforcing their own policies. Alabama’s Capstone of higher education has an opportunity to be a vanguard by enforcing its own policies.