Stanford University recently announced a new, stricter alcohol policy, with university officials citing lowering “high risk behavior” as their goal. The behavior in question? Alcohol poisoning, poor academic behavior and sexual assault. In response, some are calling the university out for instituting the updated policy in the wake of a high-profile sexual assault case with a focus on drinking as opposed to consent.
The updated policy comes just months after former Stanford University student Brock Turner was convicted of raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster and sentenced to just six months in jail. Stanford isn’t blazing any trails here. In the wake of their own high-profile sexual assault allegations, both Dartmouth and the University of Virginia made policy changes to their own campus alcohol policies.
According to Stanford officials, no hard alcohol will be allowed at parties, and only students 21 and older will be allowed to have hard liquor in their dorms, provided it’s in bottles smaller than 750 mL.
I refuse to applaud such a token, misguided response. Stanford officials are making a big deal about a small change that doesn’t address the actual problem.
I went to college. I was in a sorority. I lived it up with my sisters and friends at Greek parties.
And then one day I woke up on my bed, naked, after an off-campus party with a few friends, knowing only that my drink tasted funny after I returned from the bathroom. I remembered nothing between that drink and waking up. I never reported my suspicions because we live in a society that too often blames the victim.
My university did not allow alcohol in the freshman dorm building at all. That just meant that students became very good at getting drunk in their dorm rooms quietly enough not to alert the campus police. Stanford’s new policy does nothing more than pay minimal lip service to public outcry. It’s not more effective than banning short skirts or making it mandatory for women to walk across campus in groups for their safety.
Rape cannot be blamed on alcohol. Rape is always and only the fault of the rapist. Smaller bottles of alcohol are not automatically going to result in fewer sexual assaults. Instead Stanford should be focusing on the real solution: teaching men what consent means.
Pauline Campos is a writer.