HANOVER, N.H. (AP) - Dartmouth College banned hard liquor on campus Thursday and said all students will have to take part in a sexual violence prevention program all four years they're enrolled at the Ivy League school.
HANOVER, N.H. (AP) — Dartmouth College banned hard liquor on campus Thursday and said all students will have to take part in a sexual violence prevention program all four years they're enrolled at the Ivy League school.
Dartmouth has long tried to move past its hard-partying reputation — especially after the movie "Animal House," the 1978 comedy partly inspired by one of the college's fraternities. But the latest steps come amid a national furor over sexual assault on college campuses and the role drinking plays in the violence.
"Colleges and universities across the country face the issues I've detailed today," President Philip Hanlon said. "We are not alone in facing them, but we will take the lead in saying, 'No more.'"
Other colleges including Colby, Bates and Bowdoin in Maine have banned hard liquor on campus. Dartmouth officials said the school will be the first in the Ivy League to take such a step, and the first college or university aside from military academies to require four-year sexual violence prevention education. Many colleges require students to take part in such programs, almost always during their freshman year.
Dartmouth received nationwide attention for allegations of fraternity hazing several years ago, and it's one of 95 schools currently under federal investigation for its handling of sexual harassment and violence. Students protested at Hanlon's office last spring with a long list of demands aimed at creating a more inclusive, diverse campus.
The plan Hanlon presented Thursday was the product of the "Moving Dartmouth Forward" steering committee created in April to study problems the president said were "hijacking" the school's promise: high-risk drinking, sexual assault and a lack of inclusion.
In addition to banning hard liquor and implementing the sexual violence prevention program, the plan ends pledge or probationary periods for all student groups; and creates new residential communities.
"Our aspirations will never be realized if we fail to address a vital component: the environment in which our students live and learn," he said in a speech to students, faculty and staff. "We must recognize a moment in time when change is necessary in order to reach our potential, and now is such a moment."
Sexual assault on college campuses has been in the spotlight as students and the federal government demand stricter policies and stronger enforcement. Dartmouth recently overhauled its policies to include harsher sanctions and a trained external expert to investigate allegations. It will expand on that work with the new mandatory program, an online "consent manual" to reduce ambiguity about acceptable behavior and a smartphone app to allow students to easily seek help if they feel threatened, Hanlon said.
On the alcohol front, Hanlon said education programs launched in the past few years have started to pay off, but the practice of "pre-gaming" or loading up on hard alcohol before heading out for the night remains a problem. In addition to prohibiting the possession or consumption of hard alcohol — 30 proof or higher — by students, the new policy includes increased penalties for violators, and hard alcohol will no longer be served at public events, including alumni gatherings and fraternity parties.
Isaac Green, a sophomore, said he largely agreed with Hanlon's plans, including the ban on hard alcohol.
"I don't think Dartmouth's problems are any worse than anyone else's, but I don't think that absolves us from addressing them," he said. "In a lot of ways, our problems are less severe than in a lot of other places, but we're in Hanover, we're an Ivy League institution and we have the microscope upon us."
Though some have suggested eliminating fraternities and sororities, the steering committee's comparison of other schools found that levels of extreme behavior don't correlate with the intensity of the Greek scene. But Hanlon said Greek organizations at Dartmouth will be held to much higher standards going forward. The Greek organizations and all student organizations will undergo annual reviews to ensure they're being inclusive and diversifying their membership.
No student organization will be allowed to engage in pledging or putting new members on probationary status — a move fraternities and sororities made this fall.
"Hazing is already outlawed on our campus ... so what's being eliminated is the pledge term. Once you join, you're a full member," Hanlon said.
Hanlon believes the most transformational change will be the creation of new housing communities designed to give students more options for both social interaction and learning outside the classroom.
Starting with the class of 2019, incoming students will be placed into one of six communities that will include a cluster of residence halls that will serve as a home base even for those who live elsewhere. Each community will have a faculty adviser and graduate students in residence and will host social and academic programs.
Allison Moskow, a 1985 Dartmouth graduate whose son graduated last year, was optimistic about Hanlon's plans, particularly the overhaul of the residential system.
"To really look at residential life and offer alternatives to walking through Greek doors is nothing new, but essential," she said. "There are campuses around the world that encourage learning and fun, and there's no reason why Dartmouth can't do that."