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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Nation's Top Schools Have The Most Lenient Alcohol Policies


"On my second day of college, Harvard taught us how to drink".

Deciding where to go to college is the biggest decision 18 year olds make. Generally the decision is made with one's parents because there are many factors that need to be considered. What makes a school great does not always rest solely on the college's level of academia; the environment that a freshman is dropped into can make or break a student's success. Parents may find it hard to believe, but, some of our nation's top schools have the most lenient alcohol policies. If students don't have the fear of punishment from their university and/or their parents they will be more likely to seek help for alcohol poisoning or if addiction rears its ugly head. The problem is, as with most policies, that in many cases there is more drinking because the fear of punishment is eliminated

"As other colleges and universities crack down on underage drinking, Harvard and many other elite schools are trying to do with their alcohol policies what they do with their students: Make them smarter. This has often meant a less penalty-driven attitude toward alcohol, and policies that emphasize to students that they will not get in trouble if they reach out for help", said Isabel Kaplan. Is it making them smarter? It seems that Harvard and Yale are encouraging more drinking according to recent reports: on February 17, The Harvard Crimson stated that the number of undergraduates who will need treatment or have to be hospitalized for alcohol poisoning is likely to rise for a second year. “In total, 102 students sought medical attention for alcohol-related sickness at Stillman Infirmary last semester—and the number will likely reach roughly 200 by the end of the spring term, according to AODS Director Ryan M. Travia".

“We realize that we’re in a college environment and that people are going to abuse these things, and so we’re here to basically reduce the harm,” says one Harvard alcohol peer adviser.

Back in February, we talked about parents having the right to know what the children are up to at college - even if they are adults. It is interesting that while parents are cracking down on universities across the country, Harvard and Yale are taking a much different approach that has shown little if any success. College is a time for teenagers to learn what responsibility and accountability are all about, sure there will be some partying; but, withholding information about a student's habits from parents may not help in the long run.

What are your thoughts?

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