After Bowdoin College wrenched the fraternities out of student hands in the 1990s, the administration hatched an innovative plan to convert the old fraternity houses into "Social Houses." The administration lauded their new housing system as "the center of housing policy and residential life," supposedly creating an inclusive campus environment and encouraging students to use alcohol safely, out in the open.

It would be an understatement to say that the social house system has strayed from its initial objectives. Yes, social houses are a great way to drink on any given weekend, but they also promote alcohol as the centerpiece of campus social life, encourage unsafe drinking and alcoholism, and create a campus sharply divided between alcohol users and non-users. In order for the Office of Residential Life (ResLife)to create a safer and more inclusive campus, it should convert the Social Houses into interest-based housing.

ResLife forces Social Houses to be inclusive, which promotes alcohol use as the center-piece of house and campus social life. House policy essentially promotes a random mix of students living together a house. While small blocks of friends can live together, any one campus group cannot gain ownership over a house. This inclusive policy creates random groups of students living together in a Social House without any common uniting interest.

As a result, house residents bond around a well-known common denominator, alcohol, making it a central and integral ingredient for house life. If you can't follow my argument, ask any house member to describe their last "lock-in."

In addition, inclusive all-campus social house events, directly sponsored by ResLife, encourage alcohol as the centerpiece of campus life. In the real world and among some Bowdoin teams and clubs, people drink within interest-based groups of friends.

The problem with social houses is that their inclusive rules encourage opening parties to the whole campus. As a result, all campus events are not based on tangible common interests, but on the common interest of alcohol.

Without a real activity, interest or achievement as the foundation of an all-campus event, these parties promote a singular focus on heavy alcohol use and a "drinking for the sake of getting drunk" mentality.

Obviously, as social houses are built around alcohol use and their parties promote drinking for the sake of getting drunk, they do not encourage one of ResLife's key objectives for the Social Houses, safe drinking.

I've heard enough about the "slow flow" of alcohol coming from the kegs and the value of "drinking out in the open." House life and the central idea of campus-wide social house events, the idea of drinking for the sake of getting drunk, encourage pre-gaming, hard alcohol use, drinking games, and expensive and embarrassing rides to Parkview.

Even most sports teams encourage safer drinking than the Social Houses do. Your teammates know you well enough to tell you to slow down, but the random kid standing next to you at Quinby because it's an "inclusive" party does not.

One might argue that even if campus-wide events do encourage some unsafe drinking, they are still an inclusive, positive force on campus. Unfortunately, social houses only realistically offer to "include" anyone in drinking. The houses bond over alcohol and live in a building intimately associated with the campus alcohol culture.

As a result, a house does not know how to run chem-free events and often resorts to alcohol-based events to entertain their affiliates. Furthermore, social house affiliates implicitly assume the houses are for drinking, so they show little interest in house chem-free events.

As the houses are intimately associated with alcohol, they also exclude students who prefer for alcohol not to be the foundation of their social life, potentially a cause of the recent surge in demand for chem-free housing and an increasingly divided chem-free/pro-alcohol campus.

Social houses and their inclusive rules promote unsafe drinking and an exclusive alcohol monoculture which marginalizes students who prefer not to drink. The college should consider creating interest-based housing to replace some or all of the current Social Houses. Interest-based housing or "theme" housing would create cooperative living environments based on a common activity, cultural interest or academic interest rather than alcohol use.

Our peer schools, including Colby, Middlebury, Wesleyan, Bates, Tufts and Amherst, have all embraced this type of housing, offering language houses, outdoor-oriented houses, LGBTQ-interest houses and cultural or religious-oriented houses. Such interest-based housing would de-emphasize the "drinking for the sake of getting drunk" mentality on campus, prevent unsafe drinking and create more "chem-neutral" inclusive living environments, allowing students who do and do not want to use alcohol to live in the same building. Isn't it about time we give interest-based housing a try?

Ben Richmond is a member of the Class of 2013 and is a College House Proctor.