The Sept. 19 opinion piece, “The fraternity hard liquor ban creates a safer campus,” highlighted the complexity of the issue of alcohol abuse and hazing within the Greek life community and the substantial effort being made by many to proactively address this problem. As a professor who has researched alcohol and drinking for over 40 years, I can attest that this is a difficult, multifaceted undertaking.
While fraternities are to be commended for proactively addressing this issue, I offer one important caution based on the research. Policies should treat all forms of alcohol – beer, wine, and spirits – equally. Banning distilled spirits products as “hard alcohol” while permitting beer and wine is misguided. It sends a dangerous message to college students that there is “soft” alcohol and there is “hard” alcohol.
As we teach in science class, alcohol is alcohol. A standard drink of beer, wine and distilled spirits each contain the same amount of absolute alcohol: six-tenths of one ounce. College students who are of legal drinking age need to know there is no beverage of moderation, only behaviors of moderation. For those students who are under 21 years of age, fraternities must make clear that the only acceptable use, is zero use.