In an effort to prevent sexual assault, Ramapo College has called for better security and a ban on hard liquor.
Former New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram was hired by the college in December to make a report on how to improve campus safety after a particularly violent incident of sexual assault. She recommended that the college hire more security officers, have extra patrols at night, and ban hard liquor on campus, writes Mary Jo Layton and Stephanie Akin of North Jersey News. Their new plan is called Ramapo: Advance.
In the incident inspiring the ban, two students were charged with first-degree sexual assault among other offenses, and three others were accused of encouraging their behavior after the victim woke up undressed in a dorm room having been assaulted.
The college has already changed its policies in response to the incident by doubling fines for students that require transport to the hospital and increased fines and/or evicted students from campus for hosting parties with excessive drinking or at which minors were drinking.
The policies at Ramapo and other colleges aim to keep students from drinking too much, but many critics fear that bans will drive drinking underground and into private residences where it is even harder to prevent sexual assault.
Milgram wrote in her report that a drinking culture needs to be regulated:
The central challenge currently facing Ramapo is that, in practice, a campus culture has developed wherein large, alcohol-based parties are held in and around Ramapo’s residence halls.
Although campus rules prohibit alcohol consumption by minors as well as large parties, the practice seems quite different. Without significant changes, the college will struggle to deter underage, unlawful and excessive drinking and large parties at the Village.
The Village is a residence hall that is the “party central” of campus. Ramapo, founded in 1969, has transformed from a commuter college to one where most students also reside on campus, increasing problems of this nature, writes Daniel Hubbard of Patch.
A separate report from D. Stafford & Associates recommended changes in the way the college handles sexual assault allegations outside of criminal investigations. In response to this advice, the college will formalize investigator training, increase the number of people involved in these cases, and have licensed professional counselors for victims.
Other colleges have created similar policies.
Ramapo isn’t alone in thinking that banning alcohol will improve campus safety. Fraternities belonging to the Interfraternity Council (IFC) at the University of Missouri will be banning hard liquor beginning this fall with the goal of improving the safety of women who visit fraternity houses, writes Rose Schmidt for USA Today. The MU Fraternity Alumni Consortium proposed additional rules like prohibiting female visitors during the night on the weekends, banning out of town social events, and drug testing all Greek members.
Parker Briden, Vice President of Public Relations of the IFC at the University of Missouri, said:
While alcohol doesn’t necessarily cause sexual assault, it’s definitely a contributing factor. So, in order to try and discourage people from binge-drinking, we’re going to be banning hard liquor in all fraternity houses and having a system that allows for people to drink beer and wine.
Dartmouth College has also banned hard liquor on campus, writes Richard Perez-Pena of the New York Times, following Bowdoin, Bates, and Colby.