Students voice desire for NU to reconsider alcohol policy
Kirkland — Two shots of tequila, a Northwest University student enjoys his Halloween with a few friends at the Wilde Rover in Kirkland, Washington. Unknowingly, he was setting up his immediate future for trouble.
Carson Heffner faced this reality two years ago. What started out as fun with friends soon turned into trouble when Heffner returned to campus to rejoin a party he had left earlier.
As soon as he arrived at the on-campus apartment, he was greeted with a hug from a longtime friend. With the slight vapor of alcohol still left on his breath, Heffner was reported to Student Development.
“I was immediately brought in for questioning,” said Heffner.
As a case was being created against him, Heffner faced the dilemma of a false testimony.
“They said they had all this evidence against me, which they didn’t. I was accused of being drunk and acting belligerent,” explained Heffner.
Heffner admitted to drinking off campus and was slapped with the task of writing a ten-page paper about why drinking was bad.
“For having not enough [alcohol] to get a buzz off of, I got a ten-page paper,” said Heffner.
Northwest University has a semi-clear discipline statement for those who violate the policy: “Any student who is found in violation of the above stated policy may receive Northwest University disciplinary sanctions, up to and including removal from campus housing, suspension, or dismissal from the university.”
The complication that students face now is the lack of consistency with punishments compared to offenses.
“My friend also got in trouble, but he didn’t have to write a paper like I did. His punishment was talking to two different professors about drinking,” said Heffner.
Naturally, some students are asking the obvious question: Why are there different punishments for the same violation?
The drinking policy has been a hot issue over the last few years within the Northwest community. Students have become more vocal about the issue, questioning inconsistent punishments and outdated policies.
In an anonymous poll, 84 Northwest University students answered seven questions regarding their thoughts on the current drinking policy.
The community’s response was almost equal in regard to gender: 51% male and 49% female, giving a balanced response.
Of the students who answered, the majority were ages 21- 25 (69%) and seniors (50%). Approximately 23% lived in the dorms, 42% lived in on-campus apartments, and 36% lived off campus.
The percentage of those polled who opposed the drinking policy is staggering. 63% flat out disagree with the policy, while another 17% disagree but specified their thoughts:
“I think control of alcohol is good, but just flat out making it forbidden prevents Christians from learning how to handle alcohol responsibly,” said one student.
The most shocking number is the 73% who admitted to drinking while attending NU, 52% of whom did so both on and off campus.
The community has spoken and the response is arguably unanimous: the drinking policy at NU needs to be reviewed.
Other Christian Universities’ Policies
Generally, Christian colleges and universities do not condone drunkenness; however, many schools have changed their views on total abstinence from alcohol.
Texas Christian University has subscribed to treating students of legal drinking age as adults. The school recognizes that they have the responsibility to prepare students academically while at the same time helping young people to grow into mature and responsible adults. Each individual must ultimately decide whether or not to use alcoholic beverages.
Another Texas school, Abilene Christian University, plans to revise its alcohol policy for students 21 and older. The university recognized that its policy was not enforceable and, furthermore, unrealistic.
Locally, Seattle Pacific University adopted a more modern approach and rescinded its alcohol policy. The Falcon, the school publication, said, “in an e-mail to students, faculty and staff on June 4, President Philip Eaton announced that students 21 and over may now consume alcohol in an off- campus setting without breaking Lifestyle Expectations. Eaton specified that the university will continue to be a dry campus.”
The publication went on to say that the policy was in need of revision, but students over 21, who live off campus, must use discernment when using alcohol.
Westmont, a Christian school in California, expects its students to abide by state law and their college policies regarding alcoholic beverages. The university expects their students of legal drinking age who choose to drink an alcoholic beverage to be moderate with their consumption.
Is it time for NU to revisit its drinking policy? According to the survey, students issue a resounding ‘Yes!’
A Protest from Non-Traditional Students
What constitutes a non-traditional student? According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the following characteristics may apply to a non-traditional student:
• Is over the age of 24
• Does not immediately continue education high school graduation
• Attends college only part time
• Works full time (35 hours or more per week)
• Is financially independent
• Has children or dependents other than a spouse
• Is a single parent
• Is a military veteran
NU university policy says, “the University recognizes the potential negative impact to one’s physical, psychological and developmental wellbeing in the use of certain products, specifically during the formative undergraduate years. Therefore, undergraduate students are to refrain from the use of alcoholic beverages and tobacco in
any form during their entire period of enrollment as a student.”
Several non-traditional students view the policy as
an insult. “I’m 30 years old and you telling me that I can’t have a glass of wine or any alcoholic beverage is ludicrous,” said Earl Sauls-Martin.
Sauls-Martin further said, “I don’t advocate consuming to get drunk because the Bible warns against drunkenness, but it doesn’t say I can’t drink, so why is the school?”
Written by Cameron Moore & DeVandis Smith