As the University of Virginia scrambles to work out the campus rape scandal that has shaken the school and the nation, administrators are considering possible solutions, including student drinking bans. But will banning alcohol on campus create other, perhaps larger, dangers?
Alcohol Ban = Rape Prevention?
Research has shown that in almost half of sexual assaults, alcohol is either consumed by the victim, the perpetrator, or both. Board members at UVA are calling for the school to crack down on underage drinking, to forbid hard liquor being served at fraternity parties, or even ban fraternities altogether. University President Teresa Sullivan agrees that student drinking needs to be curbed. “Serving sweet tasting but high-proof punches to women while the guys sip a few beers is often described as the prelude for taking advantage of the women,” she said in a speech to students. But will restricting drinking just push it off-campus, where it’s less easy to supervise?
If Alcohol is Banner
UVA student representatives at an emergency board meeting last week, warned what will happen if the school decides to ban alcohol. If alcohol is forced off campus, there’s no way to control drinking, and perhaps sexual assaults. On-campus parties that would have required students to register the event, have sober monitors, and abide by fire codes, could just become uncontrolled off-campus parties, with no safeguards in place.
Education Rather Than Banning
While researchers know a link exists between alcohol and sexual assault, there’s also data that supports cutting off alcohol access might just encourage students to drink more, longer, and harder. So maybe banning isn’t the answer – maybe education is. Educating students about the dangers and risks of alcohol is the best way to conquer the over-drinking culture, and the resulting sexual assaults. A study done in 2002 concluded that “Harm reduction approaches to alcohol problems are at least as effective as abstinence-oriented approaches at reducing alcohol consumption and alcohol-related consequences.”
Source: BusinessWeek, Banning Drinking Won’t Stop Campus Rape, December 4, 2014