Don’t drink the punch?

If you say “Don’t drink the punch” to any Baylor student, odds are his or her mind will race back to freshman orientation when the catchy, abstention-geared phrase was considered sufficient alcohol education for first-year students. As freshmen, students are briefed on the consequences of using alcohol, but the conversation fails to extend to future education and awareness for students who may face situations involving alcohol in the near future.

Based on research compiled by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol use can result in death, assault, sexual assault, academic problems and addiction. College students also have higher binge-drinking rates and a higher incidence of driving under the influence of alcohol than their non-collegiate peers. The research compiled by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and suggests the most effective method of addressing the potential negative effects of drinking lie in a comprehensive method of prevention that includes, first and foremost, education and awareness programs. Baylor should adopt a more open-dialogue approach to alcohol education.

According to the Baylor Policy Statement on Alcohol and Other Drugs, “It is also a violation of University policy for anyone to possess, use, or be under the influence of an alcoholic beverage on the campus or at a University-related activity off campus.”

The university seeks “to provide an environment where the entire campus community is challenged and motivated to live a chemical-free lifestyle and to discourage by every means possible the use of alcohol.”

Because of this abstinence-centered policy, alcohol is often treated like a taboo subject among administration.

This all-or-nothing attitude toward alcohol consumption can have more negative effects than positive ones. This policy could be improved by promoting open and educated dialogue between peers and continuing to train Community Leaders to be helpful and constructive about alcohol education while still following Texas law and Baylor’s rules. Some students may be afraid to speak to their CL for fear of being punished, and while Baylor policy clearly prohibits alcohol consumption on campus and that rule should be followed, an approach to alcohol education that truly seeks to educate students about safety rather than demonize alcohol consumption overall would prevent students from putting themselves at risk if they choose to drink because they are scared to approach authority figures.

The Baylor Counseling Center offers “addictive behavior services” which appear to focus on rehabilitation and resources for parents, from the looks of its webpage.

The recent addition of the Beauchamp Addiction Recovery Center will “dramatically enhance Baylor’s efforts to foster the holistic well-being of its students in a manner that reflects the university’s values as a Christian community where wholeness, spiritual growth and academic success are priorities,” according to a statement from Baylor.

The Beauchamp Addiction Recovery Center will provide services for students in the stages of identifying an addiction. At the ceremony announcing the dedication of the center, Baylor Regent Bob Beauchamp said, “We believe Baylor, as a Christian university, should be the best in the world at supporting its students who are struggling. Removing the stigma of addiction is crucial to ensuring that students feel they can seek out resources to help them overcome their challenges and fully realize all that God is calling them to become.”

While this recognition through the counseling center and the Beauchamp Addiction Recovery Center is a step in the right direction, students need a space to be able to have constructive conversations about how to deal with alcohol responsively.

Baylor should adopt more open-dialogue practices in regard to alcohol rather than pretend it doesn’t exist at all, which can leads students to make uniformed and potentially harmful decisions.