Should alcohol be allowed on college campuses?Some campuses serve alcohol at sporting events and others will allow students to have alcohol in their dorms provided they are of legal drinking age....

Should alcohol be allowed on college campuses?

Some campuses serve alcohol at sporting events and others will allow students to have alcohol in their dorms provided they are of legal drinking age. Some students even advocate for having bars or restaurants on campus, arguing that keeping students within walking distance of their residences provides a safer environment. However, others argue that any sale or permission of alcohol on campus sends a bad message to the student body. Should alcohol be allowed on campuses? If so, should there be rules and regulations regarding its consumption?

Expert Answers
M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Currently I am the mother of a high school sophomore who already has his sight on a future college life. As a mother, I am terrified of the idea that someone with ample access to alcohol may do something silly and dangerous, and that my kid may be rooming with that person. That is just my mentality as the mother of a young male when you consider that young males often seek thrills and risky behaviors. Although I have set a good education and trust in my son, I cannot say the same of the kids of other parents.

This being said, I also understand that guys will be guys and that college is a time of discovery, as well as learning. However, I much rather see kids "being kids" somewhere other than in the place where they are going to school. If I am going to invest in my child's education I do not want my money to go toward liquor licensing or cigarette selling permits.

I agree with KP in post #2 that in other countries this may be a regular practice. I went to Oxford University, Merton College, and the student pub sold alcohol. However, it seems that the students were already used to the idea and they were surprisingly moderate in consumption. I do not see that happening in the US. I just don't believe that we are ready for that.

I am shocked at how old fashioned I am sounding right now, but I am so tired of seeing kids waste away with drugs and alcohol that the last thing I want to know is that they can keep as much as they want of it inside their own college dorms. That is just my opinion being voiced, not that I would go on strike or anything like that. :)


Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I definitely can see both sides to the issue, but from an academic standpoint, I believe that colleges and universities should restrict drinking on campus.  Like post #4 suggested, an open-alcohol policy on campus would greatly increase the ease of access for underage students to be able to drink.  College campuses should have a focus on education and on-campus housing should reinforce that secure environment.  I strongly believe that drinking on campus would endanger that secure environment, not only for those who are doing the actual drinking, but also for the other students surrounded by it. 

If students want to get an acoholic beverage or go grab a beer, they should just go to a restaurant or the local pub across the street.  With all of the statistics concerning underage drinking, I believe most universities would eagerly shy away from the media nightmare it would be to legalize drinking on campus.  All it would take is the first accidental alcohol poisoning on campus in one of the underclassmen dorms, and that university would be facing horrible news stories, bad press, angry phone calls from concerned parents, not to mention possible law suits. 

If you analyze the question of legalizing alcohol on campus as a cost versus benefit problem, the solution becomes obvious.  The potential cost to the university is huge: the university could possibly face a tarnished reputation, legal problems, and damaging press; whereas the potential gain of legalizing alchohol is very limited-- some kids get to drink on campus.  I believe most colleges would approach this question from a 'what does bring us' mentality, and in the case of legalizing alchohol on campus, the cost far outweighs the benefits.

Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Drinking on American campuses didn't begin until the 1950, though, if David Copperfield is to be trusted, drinking on college campuses has always existed in England. It seems to me that one of the great problems with drinking on American campuses is that the legal drinking age separates underclasspersons from upperclasspersons and, at school events, the distinction between cans and cannots is lost either through unscrupulous antics or through blind enthusiasm. Either way underaged underclasspersons wind up drinking (being almost unable to avoid it).

I don't like to see drinking among college students but there are several reasons that it might not be stopped altogether including the present milieu and the legal drinking age. I'd feel better about authorized pubs on or adjacent to campus where drinking could be regulated at least in part. And, yes, drinking on campuses should have rules and regulations and these should be enforced. But given the American psyche and the present American milieu, I am not optimistic of improvement. Though John Clapp of Education Development Center (EDC) says that most heavy college drinkers reduce their drinking greatly once they are out of college thus drawing a correlation between irresponsible drinking and the campus environment. The trick becomes, then, to alter the campus environment. Sticky wicket.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Depending upon in which part of the country one lives, having bars on campus is/is not an issue.  In the South, for instance, home of the former Puritans, drinking must be clandestine.  In the Midwest, bars are on campus and have been for decades.  No one, however, is admitted who is not of legal drinking age. If a student goes to such bars, s/he is close to his residence and is less likely to have an accident while driving. Also, the environment is a safer one as the place is composed of mainly students, not townspeople, etc.  So, it seems more reasonable to have bars on campus.

Bottom line: No one can legislate morality, and no one can control behavior.  Students will obtain alcohol if they want it badly enough.  Nanny government is not the answer to anything. At what age will students learn any responsibility, anyway?



pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I may be missing something, but it seems that the answer here is simple.  College students who are of age should be allowed to drink however they want, subject to the same rules that govern those who are not in college.  It is not the government's place to try to force them to drink responsibly.  On the other hand, drinking by college students who are not of age should not be condoned.  Colleges tend to turn a blind eye to this.  Parties in dorms are common and are not policed.  This is inappropriate.  I would argue that colleges should simply uphold the law.  As long as students are of age, they should be allowed to drink without restrictions.  If they provide alcohol to minors, they should be punished.

literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have to agree with both of the postings above. There are issues with both allowing and not allowing alcohol on campus. I do like the idea of bars/pubs close to campus which allow of-age students to consume alcohol in an appropriate place.

As a mother, I would be fearful of allowing alcohol in campus itself. Many of the students are away from home for the first time, and experimentation runs high. I would worry about the ease of "grabbing a beer" if alcoholic beverages were allowed on campus.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I do not think alcohol should be sold on college campuses, unless there is some way to keep students drinking it safely.  Regulating alcohol consumption might help kids learn to drink safely.  However, I don't really know how you are going to keep it out.  It would be harder than most colleges could do.  It might save lives though.

Wiggin42 | Student

Personally, I would feel safer in an alcohol-free campus. I think its too much of a temptation to make alcohol so easily and readily accessible. Besides, the majority of undergraduates are under 21 so in theory, not that many people should be drinking anyway. I highly doubt there *should* be all that much demand for on campus alcohol.