NYU’s Alcohol Policy Needs a Change
October 17, 2016
When a student decides which university they would like to attend, significant factors come into play that cannot be described by pamphlets. Evaluating a campus’ drinking culture obviously is important when incoming students assess social factors at a school. Now there certainly are social indicators, such as whether or not fraternity culture is a staple of campus life, or the frequency of alcohol incidents around NYU, or what happens when an RA finds in-residence drinking, that are unknown unless discussed with a current student.
NYU is committed to creating a campus that is free of alcohol and substance abuse, but the way the university has chosen to enforce this policy is more confusing than it should be. The choppy enforcement of drinking rules leaves students confused as to where to draw the line, and makes them more likely to venture off campus to drink in unsafe circumstances rather than deal with administrative uncertainty.
Many students have seen a variety of drinking cultures at NYU, and while many end up in very different places over the course of a night, or over the course of a semester, most begin with casual drinking in a dorm. This is where the main issue with alcohol abuse prevention lies. When drinking in a dorm, students are in a calm area surrounded by people they trust, so it’s less likely they’ll become dangerously intoxicated. From this we can surmise that it is at least somewhat safer to drink in a dorm than in a bar.
Yet, when RAs come into students’ rooms to write people up and take away alcohol, they are indirectly encouraging students to go out and drink in places where they are less likely to be caught, but more likely to put themselves in a dangerous situation. This partially stems from the fact that the specific disciplinary actions that are taken towards those who are caught drinking are maddeningly inconsistent. NYU acts in accordance with the New York State laws; those being that it is illegal for people below 21 to drink, but there really are no significant repercussions for drinking.
Students will have their alcohol thrown away and, more often than not, get written up. That means going to a meeting with a residence hall director and writing an essay on why drinking is bad. Yet, the specific progression of the punishments that are supposed to follow is hazy at best. I know of someone who has been written up seven times and hasn’t even been put on probation, while I know someone else who had their housing privileges revoked after only two violations.
While NYU obviously cannot condone dorm drinking, the university administrators have to know that students are going to drink regardless of the rules. Students should not be made to feel like the only place they can drink without getting into some form of unknown administrative trouble is in a shady nightclub.
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A version of this article appeared in the Monday, October 17th print edition. Email Jack Campbell at [email protected]