At Weber State University, the parties are sober and the kegs are filled with root beer as a result of the school’s dry-campus policy, which has been around as long as anyone can remember. There are diverse opinions about the issue from students on campus, and these relate to the campus social scene, as well as safety. In terms of safety, it is unknown how much of an effect alcohol has on campus crime, as WSU has never had a different policy.
WSU is one of several college campuses in the United States that bans alcohol. All campuses in the State of Utah have this policy as a result of the conservative base. Other schools that ban alcohol are also in traditionally conservative states, such as Oklahoma and Mississippi.
However, there has been a rise in alcohol-related arrests in recent years.
Whether or not alcohol is the sole cause of most crimes at WSU is unknown, as WSU has never known anything other than a dry-campus policy, as explained by University Police Sergeant James Wagner.
“What I do see is that it seems like a lot of the criminal cases that we respond to, especially at the resident halls, alcohol is involved,” Wagner said. “But I can’t say that without the alcohol, those cases would not have occurred.”
Although WSU has a relatively low number of alcohol-related arrests each year, they still occur and the numbers appear to be rising. In 2009, there were 26 alcohol- related arrests; in 2008, there were 21, and in 2007, there were 17. A majority of the arrests occurred in residency halls. Recently, in one of these residency halls, University Village, the resident assistants staged a root beer pong party in the UV Community Center. One of those in attendance, sophomore Ryan Everson, said that he didn’t feel that the policy really made the WSU campus any safer.
“No, I think people who want to go off campus to drink will do so,” Everson said. “And as a general rule of thumb, people are dumb, and I think that many people will end up driving whilst drunk and end up driving onto campus while in an impaired state.”
He also used a similar argument that is used in any effort to legalize alcohol or other drugs in other situations, stating that allowing it would allow it to be regulated by the school.
“I don’t think that it would change it a ton as far as the safety is concerned; however, I think it could be better regulated if it were here on campus, whether it be by campus security or basically localizing it to a more specific area.”
Everson said he felt that the social life of WSU students would be better if the dry-campus policy were repealed.
“I think there would be an increase at sporting events and stuff like that,” he said. “And it would good for Weber because it would increase their profits.”
However, second-year graduate student Ben Szocik didn’t agree entirely with this assessment.
“I know that they kind of have a poor attendance at football games and basketball games,” he said. “But in my opinion, I don’t think Utah’s population drinks much to begin with. So I don’t see that much of a gain in attendance and stuff like that and as a perk to come to the games.”
In terms of safety, Szocik said he also felt that students who have not previously been exposed to alcohol might not be able to handle it.
“I think if they allowed drinking on campus, too many people would be irresponsible about it.”