by The Dartmouth Editorial Board | 10/20/00 5:00am

The Dangerous Game of Regulation

Dartmouth has now been bested for meaningless policies regulating student drinking. This past summer Dartmouth removed permanent taps and bars from fraternities in a move unlikely to lead to any changes in alcohol consumption. But recently, Williams College sunk to even more useless micromanagement by instituting a ban on pong and other similar drinking games. Students at Williams will no longer be playing ship and Beirut; but that does not mean they are about to give up the sport of drinking all together. They will just find new games to fill the void left by the absence of the Dartmouth favorite. Underage and excessive drinking will continue only under new rules of play.

Admittedly, this is an attempt at creating safer environments for Williams students. The gesture remains, however, a harmful encroachment on student lives. An essential element to the college experience is the maturing of independent thinking skills -- but when college administrators overmanage, this growth is stunted.

Administrators must realize that they stand to gain little in their war on drinking, and will instead only serve to impair students' right to learn life skills independently. If colleges wish to combat heavy drinking habits, they must pursue different means -- such as through alcohol education and providing other social options. These methods allow students to refine and perfect the independent skills they need for life beyond college.

An Endowment of Education

Dartmouth's endowment has enjoyed spectacular returns this year and now the question is how to utilize this financial security. The College must think beyond construction. New buildings are of course wonderful, and partially needed, for this campus. New dorms would reduce the housing crunch; a new library would expand academic resources; another student center could generate alternative social options. But what is the good of a new McCulloch or another Berry if some of the students we want to use them never end up even seeing them because they couldn't afford to come here?

Granted, Dartmouth is not in any danger of lacking applicants willing to pay the high price tag for a quality, Ivy-league education. Yet quantity does not always guarantee the best range of talents. The College already offers more financial assistance to its students than almost any other college in the nation. But there are still those who leave with disheartening debts upon graduation -- and then there are those students who never made it to Hanover in the first place.

With this new financial windfall, Dartmouth can build upon its excellent financial aid history. It should consider extending its scholarship funding, freezing tuition for this next year, or better yet -- enacting both changes. Through all this talk of student life improvement, there has been a tendency to spend money on tangible objects, but by relaxing the financial burden on students, Dartmouth would do even more to improve the lives not only of those here now but those wanting to come. This is an opportunity which if seized, can stimulate interest in Dartmouth among even more of those students who cannot easily afford its price tag.