University of Kentucky spokesman Jay Blanton gave the perfect reason for why the University of Kentucky is considering loosening its long-standing alcohol ban to allow some drinking at some places on UK’s Lexington campus.
“We recognize that our current policy has not limited drinking by students,” Blanton said in announcing new policies on alcohol are being considered. The current ban on alcohol use on campus, in place since 1998, has only served to change where students drink, Blanton said, and that has sometimes harmed relationships between students living off campus and their neighbors.
Some have blamed UK’s alcohol ban for shifting student parties from the UK campus to surrounding neighborhoods off campus.
UK President Eli Capilouto said he began hearing complaints about off-campus student alcohol use soon after arriving on the UK campus in the summer of 2011. The issue is complex simply because many students are younger than 21, the legal age for purchasing acohol. The university must decide whether to allow alcohol in residence halls where some students are older than 21, but many are not.
Capilouto said the intent of the new regulations is to strengthen the university’s relationship with campus neighbors and the broader community.
UK has announced the school will expand its code of student conduct beyond campus borders, but Blanton said just how far reaching the expanded code will be has yet to be determined. In short, the new code includes a rather large and undefined gray areas, and for the code to be truly effective students must have a broad understanding of what they can and cannot do. More work needs to be done on the revised code of conduct.
Recognizing the current alcohol ban on UK’s campus has done little to discourage student alcohol abuse is the first step toward developing a more effective code of conduct on alcohol use. UK officials should actively seek the input of faculty, students and the larger Lexington community in working to replace an ineffective and unenforceable ban on alcohol on campus with one that is far more effective.