Eric Rowe and Josh Meribole- Staff Writers
From stories of finding six packs in the fridge, to the remnants of beer cans found by cleaning crews in the summer, it’s hard to deny that drinking happens on campus even though it’s against the rules.
The “dry campus” label that Dordt has refers to its policy of not allowing alcohol on campus. The purpose is to prevent both the abuse of alcohol and underage drinking. But how effective is this policy at Dordt, especially against the prevalent drinking culture throughout the country?
Dean of Students Robert Taylor said that the purpose of the policy is to protect Dordt students from situations that will involve breaking the law.
“If you have a population where some people can have alcohol and some people cannot…It will create difficult situations for those who are of age to potentially have underclassmen wanting to come to their room to drink,” Taylor said. “That’s the reason it’s good to be ‘dry’. It removes a whole lot of temptation.”
Students who break policy aren’t necessarily doing it to spite Dordt. According to senior Eric Talsma, they are just following along with what secular culture says that people our age should be doing.
“A lot of college students in western culture want to experience partying and getting drunk,” senior Jennifer Allen said. “Sobriety is a value that many Christians hold, but society emphasizes the opposite with its 21-year drinking age.”
Allen sees many problems with Dordt students’ relationship with alcohol, but says that having a society that doesn’t “worship alcohol” would go a long way towards solving the issues.
In addition, Allen notes that the alcohol abuse comes when people are told not to do something and it makes them want to do it even more. “It’s like taking one piece of candy from the jar at grandma’s,” Allen said. “Everyone knows you take 15.”
Talsma sees the dry campus as necessary but also restrictive on those of drinking age. He brought up the fact that Dordt encourages upperclassmen to live on campus. This mix of ages on campus life adds to the risk of underclassman drinking.
The lack of bars or outlets for drinking in the community means that “the drinking setting is moved to the apartments,” Talsma said. People who have the desire to drink are going to find a way to drink, junior Kobi Jones says. He does think that a dry campus makes it harder for underage drinking to occur.
When students get levels for drinking or other violations, they are in a probation period. If they abide by the rules, the level is not sustaining, but if they continue breaking rules, they will face further consequences.
Allen thinks that a dry campus needs to be done right to be beneficial. After watching friends who violated Dordt’s policy get caught, she says from the experience that the discipline was not enough to stop their behavior.
“There were no consequences to their actions,” Allen said. “Had there been action taken, it’s possible that they would be in better situations than they are now.”
Junior Benjie Lee, an RA in East Hall, says that the rules put in place have a redemptive approach. They aren’t designed to condemn a person or label them as a “bad student”, but to give students another chance to abide by the rules.
“One action does not define the person,” Lee said.
One Dordt student who agreed with the Dordt drinking policy and wished to remain anonymous vented her frustration regarding some RAs and campus security who may not document their friends based on those friendships. She added that she is “tired of RAs turning a blind eye” to alcohol rule violations.
Whether the policy is seen as a silly restriction on freedoms, or necessary for the safety of vulnerable students, it’s good to examine why administration and students take certain judgments and actions involving alcohol on campus.