The results are in from last spring’s alcohol and drug use survey, and they confirm what many of us already know: Bowdoin’s drinking culture encourages responsibility and prioritizes the health of students above all else.
Ninety-three percent of students surveyed think the College alcohol policy encourages calling for help, compared to only 77 percent at peer schools. Ninety-five percent of Bowdoin students believe Residential Life staff are supportive during alcohol-related emergencies—ten percent more than at peer schools.
Most importantly, the survey showed that Bowdoin students are more likely to trust the administration and to call Security when help is needed. The results indicated that drinking at the College is no more extreme, nor prevalent, than at other NESCAC schools.
Last weekend was a different story. Something clearly went wrong Saturday night: four intoxicated students were transported to Parkview, the Brunswick Police Department (BPD) got involved, and the men’s rugby team was subsequently found guilty of hazing. Epicuria got out of hand and the night as a whole deviated from the safe practices our campus promotes. To the BPD’s credit, the officers did not issue legal summonses to partygoers at Ladd House.
Blame does not fall solely on one individual or group. When people throw parties or volunteer to A-host, they formally assume responsibility for their peers; but this system only works if all students look out for each other and for themselves. Too many students were irresponsible last weekend—the students who were transported were not drinking alone.
It’s a fact of college life that students who are not yet 21 consume alcohol on campus. We have written about underage drinking in this paper, not intending to be provocative, but rather to foster open dialogue. The College’s alcohol policy does not condemn every beer consumed on this campus; its sanctions are designed to prevent dangerous behavior. We should not be shocked or outraged when members of our community are held accountable for violating it.
Students reported good faith in the administrations’ discretionary policies in the alcohol survey, and the events of last weekend should not change this. Students have a long-standing, positive rapport with Security that enables those who need help to get it, generally precluding interaction between students and the BPD. Fear of retribution should never prevent someone from receiving necessary medical attention, and it is our sincere hope that students do not walk away from this incident believing that the repercussions of calling for help will outweigh the benefits to a peer’s health.
The administration exercises discretion when it comes to meting out disciplinary action, and students should also exercise judgement when choosing to drink. Next time the alcohol survey is distributed, we hope 100 percent of students will say that the College’s policies encourage calling for help.
The editorial represents the majority view of the Bowdoin Orient’s editorial board, which is composed of Claire Aasen, Erica Berry, Linda Kinstler, and Eliza Novick-Smith.