Stanford bans booze at undergrad parties

Stanford University has banned hard alcohol at undergraduate parties and limited the size of bottles students are allowed to use in campus housing, university officials announced Monday.

Under the new rules, hard alcohol for mixed drinks will be banned from undergraduate parties at the university. It will still be allowed for parties attended solely by graduate students, university officials said.

Only beer and wine will be allowed at undergraduate university parties. Hard alcohol for shots was already not allowed.

Stanford also took the step of banning bottles that are 750 ml or larger for consumption in student housing. This effectively limits students to buying bottles of liquor that are a pint or smaller.

In an explanation posted Monday, university officials said the new rule will effectively limit the availability of alcohol for student consumption as fewer stores stock the smaller bottles than the larger ones.

 

“Our focus is on the high risk of the rapid consumption of hard alcohol. … Our intention is not a total prohibition of a substance, but rather a targeted approach that limits high-risk behavior¬†and has the backing of empirical studies on restricting the availability of and access to alcohol.”

Stanford has been under scrutiny for the campus drinking culture and its relationship to sexual assault in recent months after a student, 20-year-old Brock Turner, was convicted in March of sexually assaulting a woman outside a fraternity party last year.

Turner’s case drew widespread outrage when Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky sentenced him in June to only 6 months in jail, despite being convicted of three felonies. The light sentence led to calls for Persky’s ouster.

But the role of alcohol in sexual assault cases also drew scrutiny, particularly because Turner’s defense of the case involved his own impairment because of heavy drinking that night.

Turner said, according to court documents:

“Being drunk I just couldn’t make the best decisions and neither could she. I stupidly thought it was okay for me to do what everyone around was doing, which was drinking. I was wrong.”

Turner was found on top of the woman behind a dumpster outside of the frat house. Two other students passing by on their bicycles saw him and yelled out. He ran, but one of the other students tackled him. The woman was unconscious and taken to a hospital.

In court statements, Turner said that he never realized the woman had lost consciousness. He said that when he got up, it wasn’t because the other students were there, and in fact he didn’t realize they had yelled out to him. He got up because he needed to throw up.

Even as Turner’s verdict was imminent, Stanford was looking into changing its alcohol policy. In a March 9 letter to students, posted about three weeks before Turner was found guilty, university President John Hennessy and Provost John Etchemendy wrote that they were meeting to make new restrictions because of problems on campus stemming from heavy drinking.

They wrote:

“Alcohol, and particularly hard alcohol, is implicated in a variety of problems that continue to be present in the Stanford community. …¬†These include alcohol poisoning, sexual assault and relationship violence, organizational conduct problems, and academic problems.”

The revised policy also includes a section advising of the particular dangers for women titled “Female Bodies and Alcohol,” advising that “a woman will get drunk faster than a man consuming the same amount of alcohol.”

That page also apparently included a quickly deleted section titled “alcohol affects both sexual intent and aggression” that advised women they were statistically more likely to experience sexual aggression while drinking.

Screenshots of the deleted language have drawn more criticism for the university, accusing it of blaming alcohol rather than aggressors for incidents of sexual assault. University officials did not immediately return requests for clarification of why it deleted that section of its policy.