Stanford introduces controversial new changes to alcohol policy

Hard liquor banned at campus parties

Stanford University recently announced changes to its alcohol policy that aim to cut down on high-risk behavior. Some experts say other measures are more effective for curbing sexual assault..

Under the new rules, hard liquor will be prohibited from on-campus parties. While beer and wine will still be allowed, straight shots of hard alcohol will be banned from all gatherings. In dorms, students ages 21 and older may only have bottles of liquor in bottles smaller than 750 mL.

Those who violate the policy face administrative action or could be removed from on-campus housing.

The new policy changes come in the wake of a high-profile sexual assault case. In June, former Stanford student Brock Allen Turner was sentenced to six months in jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman. Brock blamed Stanford's "party culture" in part for his actions.

Some fear the focus on drinking overshadows a larger conversation about campus rape culture.

"The policy scapegoats alcohol, misplacing culpability from perpetrators to the tool they use to carry out assault," says Colleen Daly, director of communications at End Rape on Campus. "This policy is both misguided and ineffective as it perpetuates the myth that alcohol, rather than rapists, causes rape."

Similarly, Kristin Houser, vice president of communications for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, suggests that instead of limiting alcohol, Stanford should increase funding for sexual violence education and better connect with activists on campus.

In a statement, Stanford called the action "a sensible, creative solution that has roots in research-based solutions." Administrators say they want to reduce a variety of high-risk behavior associated with consuming alcohol.

"This policy is about binge drinking," says university spokesperson Lisa Lapin. "The impetus for these changes is to reduce incidents of alcohol-related medical transports." Lapin has also cited a letter from the president and provost in March that pointed to a correlation between alcohol misuse and sexual assault (Domonoske, "The Two-Way," NPR, 8/23; Jackson, Business Insider, 8/24).

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