Short Answer: The SPAHRC Report

by The Dartmouth Opinion Staff | 5/23/10 10:00pm

Friday's Verbum Ultimum discussed the recommendations made by the Student and Presidential Alcohol Harm Reduction Committee. How successful do you anticipate the selection and implementation of SPAHRC policies will be, and which policies do you think will be most effective?

Though on the whole I agree with SPAHRC's findings and suggestions, I'm strongly opposed to the recommendation that first-year students undergo a screening to identify predispositions for alcohol problems. Instilling fear in freshmen about their potential "predisposition" for alcoholism only serves to mystify alcohol as a substance, perversely making dangerous drinking all the more seductive. First-years need and deserve alcohol education focused on harm reduction that does not unrealistically demonize drinking.Jordan Osserman '11

No student committee policy can effectively counter the dangerous effects of a prohibitionary law. As many have noted since the formation of SPAHRC, this is simply another repetition in a series of failed attempts to reform policy. Vermont has recently passed a resolution urging Congress to reform the faulty federal drinking age policy it's time for us to do the same.Julian Sarkar '13

While I'm usually skeptical of any acronym with a silent H in it, I think that SPAHRC has done the College a great service. The creation of the alcohol coordinator and the transition to a keg-based distribution system have the potential to significantly reduce dangerous drinking here. Until we can figure out a way to curb the culture of drinking at Dartmouth, though, it is unclear that these changes will really matter.Josh Kornberg '13

I'm not convinced that any policy or set of policies can change the college binge drinking culture that reigns at campuses across America. It doesn't take much imagination to see how any of SPAHRC's well-intentioned recommendations could either be evaded or, if implemented strictly, could drive drinking into dorm rooms and off-campus houses. College students have a powerful sense of invincibility when it comes to drinking, and no amount of education and information seems able to penetrate this mindset of willful ignorance.Emily Johnson '12

The most promising aspects of SPAHRC's recommendations are the ones that aim at gradual change, such as liberalizing the keg policy and getting rid of certain Good Samaritan sanctions on Greek houses. Attempts to mandate alcohol screenings and monitor Greek parties, however, strike me as Orwellian and unlikely to succeed.Brendan Woods '13

The policies designed to promote alcohol education, dialogue between administrators, students and the town council, and increased use of the Good Samaritan policy are the SPAHRC recommendations that will effectively enhance alcohol safety on campus. Those that seek to ostracize "pre-gamers" and decrease the rate of alcohol distribution will be both difficult to implement and impossible to enforce.Kevin Niparko '12

The replacement of beer cans with kegs is the most practical and beneficial recommendation that SPAHRC suggested, as it will slow distribution of alcohol and simultaneously allow Greek houses to be more sustainable. I feel that the student-monitoring initiative is idealistic and will not be successful identifying "clearly inebriated students" is highly subjective unless the member stationed at the door wants to breathalyze everyone who tries to enter the fraternity.Natalie Colaneri '12

We've all seen alcohol reforms come and go. The most remarkable aspect of the SPAHRC policy will be if it survives longer than the SEMP reforms.Spenser Mestel '11

Any measure taken will need the support of the student body to be effective. If we are moving towards a reasonable and metrics-based policy, as I think College President Jim Yong Kim desires, then the students should willingly participate. If the new policies are ineffective or work against a safer Dartmouth, however, students should make it clear they need something different.Jacob Batchelor '12