On Thursday evening Vanguard Resident’s Life hosted a panel on alcohol. I know, scandalous. However, it ended up being a sobering discussion on the in-and-outs of contract, and why Vanguard is very strict on remaining a “dry” campus.
Listeners texted their questions anonymously throughout the event. Some questions were selected, read aloud and the members of the panel did their best to discuss the question. Though some students feel that a few questions weren’t answered satisfactorily, for the most part the event was a thought-provoking discussions of the pros and cons of drinking.
The panel was hosted by the effervescent Jeremy Pedron, the RD of Balport. The members of the panel were Bill Dogterom, Jonathan Murillo, Phillip Arredondo, Kayla Holtz, Taylor Kelly, and Amanda Lebrecht. All came from different backgrounds concerning alcohol. I did notice that they all shared the same views regarding drinking, however; namely that it is acceptable to drink small amounts occasionally. They also all agreed that Vanguard is better off as a dry campus.
From the start, the questions started getting difficult. One listener asked “Why does Vanguard strictly enforce a zero tolerance policy when moderation and a safe environment would help prevent binging and living at the extremes dangerously?” Though some students felt that this question was not answered fully, I was satisfied with the panel’s response. Bill Dogterom pointed out that it is very difficult to discern exactly where “moderation” ends, and excess begins.
Additionally, what might be a perfectly moderate amount of alcohol for one person to consume might be far too much for the next person. Essentially, there is no way to regulate “moderation.” Some other members of the panel joined in to point out that Vanguard’s zero tolerance policy has led to drastically reduced instances of sexual assault, even when compared to other Christian universities, such as Azusa.
Later in the night, the question was posed: “People have told me personal experiences where they felt it would be smarter to drive home drunk a few blocks back to campus instead of walking back so they have less risk of getting caught. How should Vanguard change their fear culture of big brother watching you to encourage the safety and well being of students, even if they broke contract?” I personally feel like only part of this question was addressed.
The panel tried to focus on how the disciplinary system, Student Care Committee, is very welcoming and loving. By all accounts, this is true. However, I feel they failed to address the culture of fear that pervades Vanguard when it comes to contract-violating events. Loving as the staff may be, they certainly have a rather draconian reputation. Combating this “culture of fear” might go a long way towards decreasing the amount of contract breaches that actually occur. In my opinion, this is something that our school may want to reconsider. However, as for those students who are choosing to drive home drunk rather than walk, as Bill Dogterom pointed out, once you make that decision, it is out of the school’s hands entirely. You’ve broken the law and will face the consequences if caught.
More questions were asked as the evening progressed, ranging from how students can learn to adopt responsible drinking habits post graduation, to how to interact with our fellow students who we know are breaking contract and drinking. When the dust settled I was fairly satisfied with the discussion.
Despite some issues, and a lack of differing viewpoints from among the panel itself, I found it to be a and fairly candid discussion of a very controversial topic at our conservative school. I hope that Vanguard continues to sponsor events of this sort, because burying your head in the sand does not make issues go away. Neither does burying your face in a bottle, as we learned Thursday night.