- College presidents can encounter great difficulty in combating the pervasive atmosphere of excessive partying and binge drinking that can permeate college campuses. The president of Pennsylvania State University found the behavior particularly troubling after the recent death of a student, The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.
- It can be particularly difficult for presidents to address because each college or university has its own unique culture, with the partying occurring in Greek or non-Greek atmospheres, and the amount of partying that takes place off-campus can also make such instances difficult to police.
- Presidents should work to establish relationships with off-campus sites, including nearby bars, landlords and the police, according to Wells College President Jonathan C. Gibraltar, who saw a 13% drop in binge drinking during his previous tenure as president of Frostburg State University.
The specter of partying, as well as the pervasive elements of “excessive drinking, hazing, and sexual assault” that Penn State President Eric J. Barron cited in a letter after the death of Timothy Piazza, are difficult to combat, but it requires presidents to be present on campus and to be in touch with anxieties emanating from students and staff. It can be all the more difficult as presidents find that the developing rigors of their job, such as fundraising, may take them further from student life. Such absence can make it more difficult to respond to a crisis or controversy that develops on a campus, and it can make students wary of trusting a president who is not clued into what is happening on campus.
Many of the presidents in the article refer to the need for strict enforcement of alcohol regulations, but it is not uncommon for there to be debate about how best to enforce the rules. You want students to follow regulations, but you do not want them to avoid assistance if they are in danger for fear of violating laws. A 2013 study indicated that student drinking did increase if students perceived a lax enforcement of alcohol rules, but it also stressed the need for colleges and universities to provide harm minimization and counseling, saying both contributed to lower drinking instances and behaviors. As colleges and universities consider more strenuously enforcing alcohol rules, it must also invest in preventative measures, as well as support for those who have been affected by excess drinking.