Potential drawbacks to new W.I.L.D. alcohol policy deserve scrutiny

This semester, Team 31 productions announced a change to its alcohol policy for W.I.L.D. In past years, students ages 21 or older with identification could bring in six beers to the Brookings Quadrangle. Now, these same students cannot bring their own alcohol to the event but will instead receive a wristband for three complimentary beers, half the amount of alcohol they were allowed just months ago.

Binge drinking the day of W.I.L.D. is an oftentimes dangerous “tradition” on the Wash. U. campus, and this rule will not solve that problem by merely offering less beer to students of age. Many students under the age of 21 want to be intoxicated during the concert and those who can’t drink at W.I.L.D. often drink to their limits—or beyond—before arriving on the Quad. The one group of students who may not have felt the pressure to drink large amounts of alcohol quickly were those of legal drinking age who knew they could continue to drink on the quad, at their own pace.

A policy that restricts the amount 21-year-olds may drink on the Quad can hardly be expected to make them drink more responsibly, especially if students anticipate the line for beer being anything like the line for pizza. The new policy may ultimately increase consumption among these students before the concert. A rule change alone cannot alter long-standing attitudes about drinking and W.I.L.D., so the policy may be creating a bigger binge drinking problem instead of preventing one.

There are a number of other potential consequences of the University providing beer to students as well. Although the ReDD Flag enforcement policy regarding alcohol does acknowledge that drinking under the age of 21 is common, it also forces students to assume the potential consequences of obtaining and drinking alcohol illegally. Most of us, though, know at least a handful of our fellow Wash. U. students who have fake IDs. It isn’t hard to imagine that with hundreds of students queuing up to receive wristbands for free beer, some may be getting through with fakes. Consequently, these people will be illegally receiving beer—on University property, approved by University officials. While one could say that the University may already be allowing this through Thursday afternoon Happy Hours, there is a clear difference between the school supplying underage students with alcohol on a calm weekday afternoon and doing the same at a Friday night event that necessitates an EST tent by the entrance. Although the University may punish minors for owning alcohol, it may be supplying them with it on Friday evening.

Many students may simply be upset because they are allowed less beer on the quad, but these arguments should not be what makes the University or Team 31 reconsider the policy in favor of the previous one. The likelihood of increased binge drinking and University-sponsored underage consumption should at least be raising some eyebrows looking into Friday’s event, though we will, of course, have several months after Spring W.I.L.D. to look into refining the policy for the fall. And if it does ultimately make traditional problems related to alcohol consumption worse, it should certainly be re-amended.

afternoon Happy Hours, there is an obvious difference between the school supplying underage students with alcohol on a calm weekday afternoon and doing the same at a Friday night event that necessitates an EST tent by the entrance. Although the University may punish minors for owning alcohol, it may be supplying them with it on Friday evening.

Many students may simply be upset because they are allowed less beer on the quad, but these arguments should not be what makes the University or Team 31 reconsider the policy in favor of the previous one. The likelihood of increased binge drinking and University-sponsored underage consumption should at least be raising some eyebrows looking into Friday’s event, though we will, of course, have several months after Spring W.I.L.D. to look into refining the policy for the fall. And if it does ultimately make traditional problems related to alcohol consumption worse, it should certainly be re-amended.

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