Dan Lewis –
On October 15, Student Senate and The Rambler put out a new survey about the alcohol policy at Illinois College, sparking a renewed interest in a possible reformation of the controversial policy and garnering over 270 responses.
Many students have complained about the alcohol policy at IC in recent years, claiming the policy is too strict and too harsh. The ten question survey asked both general questions about the policy and specific questions about the more controversial parts of the policy.
While 94% of survey-takers were aware of an alcohol policy at IC, only 71% were sure of what was and wasn’t a part of that policy. Seeing as how all students are required to read and sign a form regarding alcohol before they register for classes, it is clear that not everyone understands what exactly is on the form or, perhaps more likely, they do not read it at all.
When given the option to rank their opinion of the policy on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 meaning that they felt negatively about the policy, most students ranked it at a 1. Nearly 52% of students ranked the policy a 1, 2, 3, or 4. While the answers were fairly distributed, it is evident that most people feel negatively about the policy, either from a lack of understanding it or from believing that the policy was bad, as the responses to the next few questions suggest.
60% of responders feel that the alcohol policy is too restrictive while 37% believe that it is fair and only 3% think it is too loose. Nearly 100 people who took the survey reported that they had been negatively affected by the policy.
An entire 97.5% of survey-takers think that all students of legal drinking age should be allowed to drink alcohol in their rooms and 82% believe that they should be able to do so even if a minor is present. These questions hit perhaps the most controversial of topics in regards to the alcohol policy. Many drinking-age students on campus have gotten in trouble for drinking in their dorm room when minors are present.
Most of the written responses to this survey were harsh criticisms of this rule. As the policy stands now, a legal student cannot have alcohol anywhere in their room if their roommate is a minor. One respondent said, “Why can’t I keep alcohol in my room if I’m 21 and my roommate is a minor who doesn’t drink?” Another said, “Anyone 21 years of age or over should have the right to drink in their residence even if minors are present. There is nothing illegal about that.”
Any minors are also not allowed to have any alcohol-related items in their room, including shot glasses, empty containers, and promotional clothing or posters. 91% of students believe that all students, regardless of age, should be allowed to display or own these things in their rooms. As one student put it, “You can’t get drunk off of a poster.” Another survey-taker said that they “want to be able to display the shot glasses [they] bought at the bookstore.” This possible hypocrisy irked many students including several of those who took the survey.
In the end, 79% of respondents agree that IC’s administration should look into adjusting the school’s alcohol policy. The feeling from the written responses from survey-takers is very much a negative one. There were statements like: “The alcohol policy treats us like we are children” and “Residential Life has been the worse aspect of my time at IC. The time for change has come.”
Student Senate will discuss the findings of this survey, first within the Student Life Committee and then with the entire Senate. Any concerns regarding the policy will be brought to the attention of Malinda Carlson, Dean of Students, and any issues will be addressed by Student Senate.
For full survey results, please follow the link provided: 2014 Alcohol Survey Results
Dan Lewis, from Mahomet, Illinois, is a junior majoring in history and political science at Illinois College. Dan is Editor-in-Chief of The Rambler and Student Body Vice-President and serves on multiple student-faculty committees.