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Community confused regarding perceived ‘wet campus’ alcohol policy

Although liquor is legally allowed on campus and at authorized, college-sponsored events, the Westminster College community seems unclear whether this makes Westminster a ‘wet campus.’

A graph showing the results of a survey conducted by The Forum to gauge the students perception of Alcohol on Westminster’s campus. Professor Zarkin said she thinks students are confused on what the term ‘wet campus’ means and do not realize the college has strict restrictions on alcohol consumption. (Photo by Sean Distance)

In a survey conducted by The Forum, 52 percent of the 89 respondents said they did not consider Westminster a wet campus. However, 85.4 percent said they ‘knew’ Westminster was a wet campus.

“Oh, I know for a fact that it’s not [a wet campus],” said Chad Husband, a sophomore biology major who said he received his information while working in the Dean of Students office. “But everyone here believes it’s a wet campus, for sure because when you come here, admissions tells you it’s a wet campus.”

A wet campus is a broad term used for colleges and universities which allow alcohol to be served or stored on campus.

“Legally, that term has no meaning,” said Kim Zarkin, professor of communication and communication department chair. “That’s the critical thing. […] Really, the thing that has more meaning is a dry campus. A dry campus means there’s no alcohol at all.”

Zarkin said she thinks students are confused on what it means to be a wet campus and do not realize the college has strict guidelines and restrictions on alcohol consumption.

The Drug and Alcohol Use Policy (DAAP), outlines the limitations on alcohol for students, faculty and staff regarding on-campus and school-sponsored events.

A graph showing the results of a survey conducted by The Forum to gauge the students perception of Alcohol on Westminster’s campus. Professor Zarkin said she thinks students are confused on what the term ‘wet campus’ means and do not realize the college has strict restrictions on alcohol consumption. (Photo by Sean Distance)

According to the campus housing handbook, students are not allowed to drink anywhere on campus that underage students have access to. However, legal drinking age students are allowed to store and drink alcohol in residential dorms with limitations.

Students over 21 are allowed to possess and consume alcohol if they live in a private room and the door is closed or reside with a roommate of legal drinking age.

Students who violate this policy will face consequences ranging from online alcohol course/online drug courses, community service hours, essays, fines and possible eviction from campus housing, according to the campus housing handbook.

Westminster’s status as the only private liberal arts college in the state might contribute to the general assumption that it is a wet campus, said Dan Cairo, interim assistant dean of students and the director for the student diversity and inclusion center.

“It’s more damp than anything,” Cairo said.

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Sean Distance
Sean is a 22-year-old senior communication major at Westminster College. If he’s not spending his time taking photos and making videos, Sean’s likely getting caught up daydreaming about comic books and superheroes. Sean also enjoys writing, music and dancing enthusiastically in public.

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