With a two-year grant awarded by the Pennsylvania Liquor Board, Muhlenberg is working to ensure that party nights on campus are as safe as possible, while continuing to respect students’ personal, legal drinking choices.
The grant, available to Pennsylvania colleges every two years, was initially applied for with “two explicit goals: (1) to enhance our educational efforts regarding safe and legal consumption of alcohol by giving the silent majority of non and low-risk drinkers a greater voice, and (2) to enhance utilization of Campus Safety as a resource to assist students who may be at risk for negative consequences from the dangers of high-risk drinking to receive the medical assistance they may need,” according to Allison Williams, dean of students.
Alcohol consumption and availability has become socially synonymous with college parties and gatherings, as these substances are more accessible to students than in previous high school years. Additionally, upon consumption, alcohol may serve as a relaxer or destresser for notably over-committed students. Tim Silvestri, director of counseling services remarks via the College website on August 2, 2022 that “[Muhlenberg’s] data shows that the vast majority of Muhlenberg students either don’t drink or do so in a responsible manner that doesn’t interfere with their academics, relationships or personal integrity.” In essence, the issue is more in relation to the student body’s perception of drinking, in that it is not as common and pressured as one may believe. While Muhlenberg will continue to lawfully respond to alcohol-related incidents, the main focus of this grant is less about policing illegal drinking, and more centered around education.
Roughly half of this funding from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board will be put towards educational programs that look to, “give greater voice to the vast majority of students who view high-risk drinking as a danger to the intoxicated student and others in their immediate surroundings,” Williams noted. It is understood that the misconception regarding the amount of drinking on campus is just as harmful as the actual consumption.
Muhlenberg seeks to ensure that all students feel safe on campus, regardless of their personal choices. According to Levi Roush ‘24 (of legal drinking age), “this is a small enough school that people are always looked out for. People go to parties with friends and know that someone will be there to take care of them.” Roush also referred to Muhlenberg’s medical amnesty policy, which reflects that, in simplicity, a student who seeks medical assistance from Campus Safety for one of their peers who is under the influence will not be charged with policy violations for their potential alcohol use. It is unclear if this policy applies to all people present at the time Campus Safety is called or only to the student who made the call and the student in need of medical attention. Roush felt that this policy allowed students to feel comfortable reaching out to Campus Safety in the event of an alcohol-related emergency while alluding to the fact that this is not a commonality.
Both Williams and Silvestri concur that the school will continue to support students who choose to drink, alongside those who do not. All of this will be done while educating both groups on the harmful effects and risks associated with alcohol, including the potential academic, medical and legal consequences. Roush believed that taking the stance on, “anti-drinking is only going to worsen the problem,” stating that making the topic “taboo” will only make it more secretive, and therefore dangerous.
“Drinking is going to keep happening, both underage drinking and legal… It’s always good to be educated, to have an understanding of personal limits and how to take care of yourself. It’s a good thing.”Levi Roush ’24
Muhlenberg wants to ensure that students are aware of the potential risks of drinking, while recognizing that the choice of abstinence will not isolate them. Over the next two years, with this additional grant funding, the College will continue to support students’ choices by increasing alcohol education and helping students make informed decisions on consumption.