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So, what should colleges do?

The new policy that went into effect on March 30th at Dartmouth College’s to ban “hard liquor” has started quite a conversation. There’s not much debate about the negative consequences of irresponsible and over-consumption of alcohol on campus. At one end of the spectrum the result may be as simple as doing poorly on a test but at the other end, it may be as horrific as a student’s death due to alcohol poisoning. It’s not identifying the problem that’s the issue. It’s figuring out what to do about it. And, that’s no easy task.

It’s easy to see there’s no quick fix and no agreement that the ban will be the solution Darmouth President Hanlon is seeking. Certainly no silver bullet that will make it all go away by the time classes start on Monday morning.

Here in Kentucky, our Commonwealth Partnership provides a platform for the exchange of ideas, training workshops, and opportunities for partnerships designed to leverage our fiscal and human capital. Carried out differently on different campuses, some common themes emerge:

• Education/prevention programs such as AlcoholEdu, AlcoholWise, eChug, BASICS and Be-Wise are used in orientation and throughout the year;
• Peer to peer efforts not only reach across campus but into community high schools to help teens understand the challenges of the transition they will soon make;
• Increased efforts address high risk drinkers who may be members of Greek organizations, athletes or members of the military;
• Community partnerships with local prevention groups, law enforcement and elected officials and alcohol industry suppliers and retailers are crucial.

The campus cultures of colleges and universities throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky are diverse and we respect that. I also respect President Hanlon’s ambition to change the culture of Dartmouth College, but prohibiting a single type of alcohol (liquor) in a single setting (on campus) seems to elevate symbolism over substance.

Dr. Robert L. King, J.D. is President of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education and a member of our National Advisory Board.

*The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility ( or any member.*