Other Campuses: Colby College boasts booze in dining halls; U. Rhode Island still dry

By The Good Five Cent Cigar

(U-WIRE) KINGSTON, R.I. – A college campus in Maine has decided to go the extra mile to teach its students responsible drinking by offering alcoholic beverages in its dining hall.

Colby College, a small liberal arts school in Waterville, Maine, has established a program, which allows students over 21 to enjoy beer and wine in their dining halls on Friday evenings.

“The idea behind it is that a lot of people leave college not knowing how to ‘drink responsibly,’ or how to be ‘social drinkers’ because in college, binge drinking is the norm,” Anna Birnberg, a freshman at Colby, said.

Catherine Welch, a senior at Colby, realized that students were not offered enough opportunities to learn responsible drinking habits when she returned from studying abroad in Nepal and proposed the plan which was later instituted.

She said college life exposed students to too much drinking or to completely refraining from drinking. She said that after her exposure to drinking habits in Nepal, she realized that moderate drinking was not an option for students at many colleges in the United States.

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Welch used her role as student government president to convince administrators to adapt her plan and the new drinking policy was put into effect in November 2004.

The University of Rhode Island is a dry campus, and according to the URI Student Handbook, the university does not sanction alcoholic consumption of any kind during a school function, or in the university’s buildings excluding the University Club.

The situation at Colby is unusual because although other universities have on-campus bars, they do not offer alcoholic beverages in the dining halls.

“Substance abuse is not compatible with the university’s vision of building a new culture of learning,” Robert L. Carothers, the president of URI, said in April 2004, when he won an award for his efforts to reduce substance and alcohol abuse on campus.

Meeghan Harrington, a senior at URI, said that although binge drinking is a problem on the URI campus, it is not as bad as it was five years ago.

-Tamar Weinberg

John Veal, a junior at URI, also said that binge drinking is not a very big problem for most students, and looser restrictions will not moderate the amount of alcohol some students consume.

“Yes, there is a lot of binge drinking on campus, but only in younger people who don’t know any better,” he said.

According to Colby College, the college still maintains a strict alcohol policy, especially for students under 21. At the same time, administrators support Welch’s efforts to educate students who are 21 and older to drink in moderation.

As for URI, the school rules and regulations stipulate a strict anti-drinking policy.

“I don’t think on-campus guidelines cause people to drink more,” Harrington said. “What matters is the drinking age. On-campus drinking policies are here to keep students safe.”