Friday, October 11, 2013

Bethel’s Alcohol Policy: Is it time to make a change? - Wet campus option needs to be discussed further

8:00 AM

Emily Simpson
Op/Ed Editor

After some recent events regarding alcohol consumption on campus, the question of whether or not Bethel should become a wet campus has become all the more relevant. Not only that but Bethel’s alcohol policy has also been a topic of discussions among board members. Here are my thoughts about why Bethel should take a look at changing the alcohol policy.
In my experience, I have come to understand a big factor of underage and excessive drinking, either binge or just drinking frequently, is the forbidden element. It’s the rush you get from breaking the rules and getting away with it. It makes you feel independent and rebellious.
If Bethel were to become a wet campus, I believe the amount of alcohol consumption would decrease because this forbidden element will have been removed. After talking to some residents, I feel stronger in that belief.
As a Resident Assistant, one of my goals is to forge relationships with residents and to help keep people safe, but sometimes the strictness of our alcohol policy gets in the way. If I am constantly having to document people I see drinking, pretty soon I will become cut off from making those relationships, which would in turn could become a safety issue.
If people are concerned about getting documented, they are less likely to come to residence life staff in case of an emergency. This can lead to alcohol poisoning and, in extreme cases, even death. In the instance Bethel became a wet campus, the residence staff would be better able to address the issue of alcohol safety and hopefully aid in the decrease of health issues and/or tragic events that are consequences of alcohol consumption.
Another issue with being a dry campus is those who do drink are forced to search out drinking opportunities off-campus. Not only could this be detrimental to how the Newton and North Newton communities view Bethel students, it is also potentially very dangerous. With a good amount of drinking off-campus, students must find their way back, which could easily, and often, lead to drunk driving. This is, again, something I feel becoming a wet campus could help us prevent.
Now I know becoming a wet campus would bring along its own problems, for example underage drinking. But now that the North Newton police force is permitted on campus such issues can be better addressed.
Then there are the donors, who we couldn’t do without if we want to keep a majority of Bethel scholarships available to the student body. Becoming a wet campus could potentially push away many of our generous donors, but  the transition need not be spontaneous.
I propose over the next few years the subject of Bethel’s alcohol policy be discussed in depth, give everyone a chance to consider the idea of transitioning to a wet campus, and who knows, maybe in the next few years sentiments will change and Bethel being a wet campus could be even closer to becoming a reality.

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