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The Dartmouth
April 19, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Hanlon announces hard alcohol ban, residential communities

College President Phil Hanlon unveils his the "Moving Dartmouth Forward" policy initiative  in the Moore Theater.
College President Phil Hanlon unveils his the "Moving Dartmouth Forward" policy initiative in the Moore Theater.

A residential community system, a campus-wide ban on hard alcohol, a mandatory four-year sexual violence prevention and education program and a code of conduct are among the changes College President Phil Hanlon announced this morning as part of the Moving Dartmouth Forward plan.

The College plans to start the hard alcohol ban this spring term, Hanlon said in an interview with The Dartmouth. Both possession and consumption of hard alcohol with a proof of 30 or higher will be prohibited at events organized by student organizations or the College. Individual students, including those over the legal drinking age, will also have to adhere to this policy.

Hanlon said that students found in violation of the hard alcohol policy will face “stiffer penalties” than those violating other aspects of the alcohol policy. This distinction will hopefully limit the use of hard alcohol across campus, Hanlon said. The specifics of these penalties are yet to be determined, he said.

The College will also require bartenders and bouncers for social events. Director of media relations Diana Lawrence said in an email that a working group, co-chaired by one staff member and one student, will review social event and alcohol management policies to determine the specifics of both policies.

To enforce these policies, the College will hire additional Safety and Security officers, train residential life staff to enforce the new policy and require undergraduate advisers to complete inspection rounds of residence halls on “likely drinking nights” — Wednesday through Saturday, according to the proposal.

The presidential steering committee found through its research, including discussions with public health experts, that hard alcohol poses the most significant risks to student health, Hanlon said. The committee also considered an “open door” policy — under which students would not be punished for drinking in residential halls if their doors are open — but found that peer institutions who enacted such policies had more severe alcohol issues than Dartmouth, so that the policy may not besuitable to the College, he said.

Hanlon said that the College wants student input and perspectives on the new alcohol policy.

Lawrence said that Safety and Security, the office of residential life and the office of judicial affairs will discuss and decide how to enforce the alcohol policy over the course of this term. This process will include meeting with undergraduate advisors and students to collect feedback.

The College will also instate a mandatory four-year sexual violence prevention and education program in fall 2015. Lawrence said that the College will develop the program over the next two terms, but that specifics have yet to be determined. The plan also includes other initiatives that address sexual assault, such as an online consent manual — to be created by the end of the summer — and a Dartmouth-specific smartphone application students can use when feeling unsafe.

The plan targets issues of inclusivity through a change to undergraduate housing. Beginning with the Class of 2019, first-year students will be assigned to one of six communities consisting of a cluster of residence halls that organize social and academic events. The College has dedicated $1 million a year to these residence communities. Starting their sophomore year, students who choose to live in a dorm will reside in the residential clusters associated with their community. First-year students will continue to live in freshman housing.

Students will remain members of their assigned community throughout their Dartmouth career, including during terms when a student chooses to live in off-campus, Greek or affinity housing. A faculty advisor and a graduate student advisor will live in each community.

Provost Carolyn Dever said that the residential communities will foster student and faculty interactions and bring the community together.

To increase accountability, the College will require all student organizations to undergo an annual review process. The College will also require all student organizations to eliminate pledge terms, an action that follows the decision of Greek leaders to ban probationary periods this fall. The College will also require all Greek houses to have one female and male faculty sponsor each and “an active alumni board,” beginning in the fall of 2015.

A committee headed by Dean of the College Inge-Lise Ameer will create a written set of expectations concerning the annual review process and rules about hosting social events.

“If in the next three to five years, the Greek system does not engage in meaningful, lasting reform, and we are unsuccessful in sharply curbing harmful behaviors, we will need to revisit its continuation on campus,” Hanlon wrote in the Moving Dartmouth Forward plan.

Hanlon said that the organizational review will ensure accountability by asking Greek houses to explain how they further the College’s values, including inclusivity and safety.

“It’s going to go beyond just, ‘Did I stay out of trouble?’," he said. “It’s going to say, ‘What am I doing to promote the values of this institution?'”

He noted that the Greek Leadership Council took the lead in pushing for continued reform, and said that their proposals in the fall introduced more change than in the previous 50 years. While he said it is apparent that Greek leaders have thought extensively about reform, he is counting on them to follow through with their plans.

An external oversight committee chaired by Tufts University president emeritus Larry Bacow will report annually to the Board of Trustees and Hanlon on the progress of the plan. In addition, the College will be conducting two climate surveys — the Association of American Universities Sexual Assault Climate Survey beginning in April 2015 and continued on a regular basis and the National Health Assessment every other year starting in fall 2015.

Ameer will head another committee tasked with creating a code of conduct to be signed upon matriculating to the College, which students will be required to sign starting this fall.

The plan also outlines ways to increase the academic rigor of the College, Hanlon said. To this end, the College plans to commit an incremental $1 million a year towards experiential learning, and is also considering earlier class times and ways to curb grade inflation.

Dever noted that changing “culture and expectations” concerning academics will be a long and slow process.

Hanlon said that the addressing high-risk behavior is “a high-stakes” issue for Dartmouth, though he noted that campuses nationwide face similar issues.

“Because the community is so tight, when a student harms another student or harms themselves, it really tears us apart in ways that on other campuses, it doesn’t have the same impact,” Hanlon said.

These recommendations are the culmination of a plan laid out by Hanlon last spring, when he announced the formation of the presidential steering committee. For the past nine months, the 10-member faculty, alumni and student committee examined sexual assault, high-risk drinking and lack of inclusivity on campus. On Jan. 19,the committee submitted its recommendations to Hanlon. Hanlon presented the Moving Dartmouth Forward plan to the Board of Trustees yesterday.

Presidential steering committee chair Barbara Will wrote in an email that the difficulty will be keeping all community members engaged in the process.

“This is not a process that is over — the recommendations are over, but the process is only beginning,” Will said. “What matters now is how the future plays out and how willing the campus is to follow President Hanlon in his vision.”

Board of Trustees chairman Bill Helman ’80 said that it is important to think of the plan holistically. He noted that the alcohol policy is “very bold.”

“It’s a package, one has to think about it as a package,” Helman said. “It’s a transformational opportunity for fundamental change that is only as effective as its implementation.”

He said that moving forward, all community members must be held accountable to ensure the program’s success. They must also be open to introducing different reforms if the new policy does not have the desired outcome, he said.

Hanlon said that while he expects criticism on some specific aspects of the plan, he does not expect any negative reactions to the plan’s overarching goals and aspirations, as the community has expressed an interest in addressing these issues.

Dever said that the future of Dartmouth depends on the success or failure of the College’s response to these issues.

“I’m determined that it will be a success and I think if we can come together in partnership and really invest in Dartmouth, we can define the future of this amazing place.”​