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Hard Liquor, Hard Consequences at Ivies

Graphic by Gabby '15.
Graphic by Gabby ’15.

Binge drinking on college campuses may look like fun on Snapchat’s “Game day” live streams and on the “I’m Shmacked” YouTube channel: girls wearing shorts and bikini tops in their school colors while boys shout and grunt, spraying beer everywhere.

University officials have reacted to the beer-chugging, handle-swigging, shot-taking lifestyle on college campuses all over the country. The mass consumption of alcohol at college parties and game days doesn’t just threaten students’ health or well being; it also fosters some of the highest instances of rape in the world.

According to the 2007 Campus Sexual Assault Study and reiterated by President Barack Obama in late 2014, one in five college women in the United States will be sexually assaulted before she graduates. Statistics compiled from the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault assert that “at least 50% of college students’ sexual assaults are associated with alcohol [on average].”

Recent societal upheaval combined with these numbers have led American colleges to take measures that go beyond previous attempts at curbing binge drinking and campus assaults. In January 2015, both Brown University and Dartmouth College instituted policies restricting and regulating alcohol use and fraternity parties on their campuses.

The Phi Kappa Psi and Sigma Chi fraternity chapters at Brown have both been sanctioned by the university for “‘facilitating’ sexual misconduct,” according to Brown officials and as reported by NBC News. Phi Kappa Psi has lost university recognition and campus housing for hosting a party in October that served drinks that contained a date-rape drug. Two students tested positive for gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB), and one student reported being sexually assaulted at the party. Sigma Chi received a smaller punishment; the fraternity is on probation until the fall of 2016 and is not able to host events or rush and pledge new members, among other sanctions. A student reported an instance of sexual assault at an unregistered Sigma Chi party early in the 2014-2015 school year.

Brown’s Executive Vice President for Planning and Policy Russell Carey and Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services Margaret Klawunn announced the punishments in a letter sent to members of the university community on Monday, Jan. 19, 2015.

“The measures we are taking this spring reflect our interest in preventing sexual assault by addressing the campus climate at Brown,” Carey and Klawunn stated in the letter, as quoted by GoLocalProv, a digital news source in Providence and New England.

Dartmouth College President Philip J. Hanlon recently unveiled Move Dartmouth Forward, a campus-wide initiative to “rein in the drinking culture,” and halt the “bawdy [fraternity] culture,” according to The Wall Street Journal. Move Dartmouth Forward will call for a “four-year sexual violence prevention education program,” along with a number of party guidelines that ban all hard liquor higher than 30 proof and requires outside bartenders or bouncers to be present at all events. In addition, the fraternity system will need to “engage in meaningful, lasting reform… [or else the college] will need to revisit its continuation on campus,” Hanlon said in his official statement on Thursday, Jan. 29.