In an effort to decrease the number of sexual assault cases, Dartmouth College has banned all hard alcohol on campus, effective March 30. The school has come under fire in recent months for its mishandling of sexual assault cases and its failure to properly investigate the allegations. However, critics have pointed out that banning hard alcohol is not the answer.
"I think this is an overreaction because alcohol does not cause sexual assault; rapists cause sexual assault," ESSENCE contributor and political analyst Zerlina Maxwell said yesterday on MSNBC's PoliticsNation. "I think we need to start the conversation about how we can prevent sexual assault, which is talking to men about consent and bystander intervention and those types of prevention strategies instead of just saying, 'Well, don't just ever drink and you'll be safe,' because that's not actually true."
Nonetheless, school officials are optimistic that the ban will bring change. "Colleges and universities across the country face the issues I've detailed today," Dartmouth president Philip Hanlon said in a speech on Thursday. "We are not alone in facing them. But we will take the lead in saying 'no more.'"
Some students question whether the ban will do more harm than good. "It will increase the incidence of surreptitious binge drinking and increase the risk of binge drinking off campus, which will lead to drunk driving," Dartmouth senior Jake Rascoff told The New York Times. The Times also reports that it is rare—and oftentimes unsuccessful—for a university to retroactively ban hard liquor.
Penalties for violating the new policy are still being decided.