Students’ Thoughts of the Possibility of a Wet Campus and the Change In Tobacco Policy

Garrett Haskins, Staff Writer

Alcohol has become a mainstay in college life across the country. There are very few college campuses, either wet or dry, where no drinking occurs. With alcohol being so prevalent at colleges, many dry schools like Averett are starting to reconsider their campus policies on it.

A Harvard study found that one in three colleges in the United States have a dry campus. With most campuses in the country being wet, there is a lot of pressure on dry schools to change their policies. Sophomore Zachary Greene, who does not think that Averett should be a wet campus, speculated on why there was so much effort to change Averett’s policy.

“So many other schools have wet campuses, the students here want the campus to be like the schools where their friends go,” Greene said. “A lot of my friends from back home go to schools with wet campuses.”

Not many students are familiar with the process that is required for Averett to make the change to the current alcohol policy. Dean of Students, Lesley Villarose explained how the process will work.

“We do have an alcohol and other drugs task force, and there are two students on that from SGA,” Villarose said. “We going to be looking at the best practices to go from a dry to wet campus, so we have some work to do in terms of getting research.”

The research will be compiled and presented to the Student Life Committee, which is made up of faculty members. From there it will be presented to Dr. Fulop, Dr. Franks, and then the Board of Trustees.

Greene is against the change due to the campus being mostly under the age of 21.

“It would be fine if the majority of the students were over 21, but most of us are underage. It doesn’t make sense to make a rule that only applies to some of us,” he said. “It just seems like a waste of their time.”

Other students would love to see the school change from a dry campus to a wet one. One of these students, sophomore Connor Tavenner, thinks that Averett should change their policy.

“If they can go out and buy it, why can’t they drink here,” he said. “It would be safer for them to bring it back and drink on campus than have to worry about finding a way to get back to campus.”

Villarose says that there will be upcoming opportunities for students to share their opinions on the change from a dry campus to a wet one.

“So once we start diving into researching and data, we are going to be doing some open forums or town hall type meetings. We will be looking to get student input that way,” she said. “Students can always email me or come by and share any concerns or questions. When we get to the process we will be getting student input.”

Averett made another big change recently to the campus tobacco policy. The legal age to purchase tobacco in the state of Virginia was raised to 21 on July 1, 2019. Late last year, the national age to purchase tobacco was raised to 21 as well. Villarose says that Averett’s policy was changed in order to be in accordance with the law.

“If you are not 21, you cannot use tobacco products. That’s why you see campuses going smoke-free,” Villarose said. “In the residence halls, we set that policy, so no smoking or tobacco products in residence halls or any inside building of the university.”

Tavenner doesn’t agree with the new smoke free policy. He feels that it is not fair to those who can legally purchase tobacco.

“I don’t use any tobacco products, but why should someone who can get it legally not be able to use it. I think there should be rules about tobacco use indoors, but not about having tobacco itself on campus.”