Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Parties and alcohol are inseparable; for many, drinking is an integral part of the partying experience. Currently, Swarthmore College does not provide any funding for alcohol. Instead, the money is mainly donated by students who wish to preserve the presence of alcohol at the parties. I believe the college should continue with this policy, since it is beneficial to both the college and the students.
I have heard many students complain about the lack of college funding as well as the strict alcohol policy that prohibits hard alcohol. Some are simply dissatisfied with the monotonous variety of alcohol the parties offer. Some do not like the idea of donating money from their tight budget. And many argue that although the college implements such regulations a good intention — to create a safer environment for its students — it is in fact aggravating the drinking scene. According to such arguments, the more the college restricts alcohol, the more students “pregame,” and this relation is perceived to be an unintended consequence.
However, I believe the college is making the right decision in not funding for alcohol. First of all, the college should be sending a “proper” message to its students in principle. Generally, college policies serve two functions: to control conduct (physical) and to set a guideline (abstract). When focusing on the latter function, most people would agree that the current policy achieves its function. It sends a clear, reasonable message along the lines of “we believe alcohol does not deserve college funding, we are aiming to alleviate problems associated with drinking, and we want students to abide by the law.”
Secondly, on a pragmatic level, I believe college funded alcohol will not alleviate drinking problems. The “pregaming” culture is already prevalent on campus, and regardless of the amount and variety of alcohol offered at the parties, students will continue to “pregame” to the same extent of drunkenness. I believe this culture is shaped by the students’ innate desire to gather with and secure a close circle of friends before entering the “bigger world” of parties. College funded alcohol might aggravate the drinking scene, as students will not only drink alcohol in pregames but also in parties, effectively increasing the chances of becoming black-out drunk.
Furthermore, one should not ignore the fact that the college budget comes from, among other sources, the generous alumni endowments and our tuition fees. The money does not fall from the sky; it comes directly from the hard work of our families, alumni, and friends. Determining how much and to where the budget should be allocated is a sensitive issue. But it is fairly self-explanatory that at Swarthmore College, an educational institution, such precious money should not be used towards alcohol.
One might argue that alcohol serves as a stress-reliever, that it contributes to the students’ well-being. There are different perspectives on this argument, but when discussing the realm of “well-being,” it is fair to say that the college should prioritize Sharples food, the main source of our well-being. By prohibiting alcohol funding, the college is instead able to spend its budget towards what really benefits the students.