By Karis Rogerson
Asbury students’ opinions differ on whether or not Asbury’s total prohibition on alcohol is a worthwhile rule.
The university handbook states: “Members are to refrain from the use of tobacco in any form, alcoholic beverages (including ‘nonalcoholic beer’ and similar products) and illegal drugs. The preceding substances are not to be used, possessed or distributed on or away from campus.”
Doug Wilcoxson, vice president of student development, said that this rule is not necessarily based off of Biblical mandates, but was formed to uphold community standards, and that the university “believes education happens best in that context.”
Students, however, have mixed opinions about whether or not the rule is actually beneficial to community life. Some, like junior Sadie Grindstaff, who transferred from a secular school in the fall of 2012, agree with Asbury’s standards. She appreciates the fact that she no longer has to deal with drinking, and thinks it is important for Asbury to stand against it.
“The witness of Asbury is stronger, and those who are legally old enough to drink are not stumbling blocks for those who cannot,” Grindstaff said.
Senior Kirsten Joss also agrees with Asbury’s dry policy. Her involvement with youth ministry has allowed her to see and help teens who are involved with alcohol. “It is really difficult and actually heartbreaking to see them run away from the church and make the wrong choices,” she said. “It does affect other people around you.”
Grindstaff and Joss are in the minority, according to a Survey Monkey poll sent out by the Asbury Collegian. Of the 463 students who responded to the poll, 289 students (62.4 percent of respondents) disagreed with the school’s policy, while 27.9 percent supported it and the rest did not care.
Some students, like freshman Stephen Lawrensen, feel that this rule shows a lack of trust in the students and faculty. Lawrensen said, “Suggesting that students and teachers of legal age are not allowed to drink off-campus because ‘the use of any alcohol can be damaging to the individual and community’ is completely absurd.”
He went on to say it is a fallacy to state that simply because something is a possibility makes it a probability, and that this shows a lack of trust.
Sophomore Grant Mossman disagrees with the rule because he does not believe it is actually effective. “People that want to misuse alcohol are not going to be deterred by this rule, because they can leave campus, get drunk and then come back when they are sober,” Mossman said.
He added that the rules do not allow students to learn to drink responsibly, a sentiment echoed by senior Sarah Ritter when she said, “The biggest problem with [the rule] is that people don’t learn to drink responsibly. While they’re in this community they don’t learn and then go crazy where there’s no accountability.”
Finally, many students disagree with Asbury’s rule simply because they do not think the institution has the right to restrict off-campus life. “I think that a strict, no-alcohol on campus policy helps keep a healthy community,” said senior Joshua James.
He added, though, “In my opinion, trying to totally restrict an ‘of-age’ individual from drinking alcohol criminalizes an action that is completely reasonable for an adult.”
Matt Gordon said, “These people are adults and have the freedom to drink whatever they feel like drinking.” Anna Foldy said, “I think that if a student is 21 or older, that person should be allowed to make his own decision about drinking off campus. Even if it were just a glass of wine with a nice dinner, I think it’s unfair for Asbury to condemn something not prohibited in the Bible.”
Some students, however, find the entire discussion somewhat unnecessary. “If a student takes interest in Asbury University and does some research, then they know all about its high standards,” said Emily Pegram. “If they decide to attend, then they should agree to follow those standards, at least while they attend the school.”
Sophomore Nathan Sharp said he does not understand why this discussion is so prevalent, and that he trusts the institution’s reasoning behind the rule. He added, “If alcohol is so important to someone that they cannot go without it, possibly even just for a couple years, then there is a deeper issue at play.”
Senior Beth Purvis, however, still asserted that it is not Asbury’s prerogative to make that a rule. “I’m not condoning that everyone on campus gets drunk or hung-over,” Purvis said, “but a glass of wine at a nice restaurant shouldn’t be restricted because Asbury has a rule about it.”