On Jan. 29, Dartmouth College took a bold step in announcing a revamped alcohol policy, including a campus-wide ban on hard liquor.
By drawing this line in the sand, Dartmouth has acknowledged what so many others, including the University of Kentucky, have pushed aside — the devastation caused at the individual and communal levels by the alcohol epidemic on our college campuses.
While it may seem more than a little cliché for a Baptist pastor to advocate for a more restrictive alcohol policy, the issue at hand should burden anyone with concern for their neighbor and a desire for college students to flourish in their lives ahead. The destruction alcohol has caused on campus cannot be overstated and the potential for further damage cannot be ignored.
In a landmark study, the Harvard School of Public Health found a direct correlation between binge drinking and "missing class, falling behind in schoolwork and lower grade point average." Whether it is a high-profile rape case at the University of Virginia, football players charged with rape at Vanderbilt University, or the thousands of students who will be forced to move home because they spent more time drinking than studying, the symptoms of this epidemic are well documented.
As someone who is deeply invested in Lexington's college community, I worry that we have shirked our responsibility to students and society by failing to take serious action.
Last April, President Eli Capiluto announced that UK would be relaxing its policy to allow certain alcoholic beverages to be served and consumed on campus. As impressed as I have been with the administration's leadership in many areas, I am deeply troubled by the collective head-burying exercise on this issue.
It would be impossible for me to distance myself from my Christian worldview on this issue. More than new policies, I pray that every person would see how temporary and fleeting the pleasure of alcohol is, compared to the deeply satisfying joy found in Christ. But even if you and I do not share a worldview, we can at least stand united in our desire to create a campus environment that positions all students for maximum success both personally and professionally.
UK has some of the best and brightest students from around the world — future doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers and many others who have the potential to make unimaginable contributions to our society. With this great opportunity comes a responsibility to lead and protect. I appeal to this shared responsibility and call on UK's administration to follow in the footsteps of schools like Dartmouth by taking action against this epidemic that is damaging the lives of so many and threatening the very purpose of UK's existence.