Why People Are So Mad About Stanford's New Alcohol Policy

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Stanford University has updated its alcohol policy to ban hard liquor at on-campus parties, in a move that some critics are saying is an inadequate response to sexual assault.

The new policy was announced on the school’s website on Monday. It states that the school will prohibit hard liquor at on-campus parties not run by student organizations (which will be allowed to serve mixed drinks), and prohibit bottles of hard liquor larger than 750 ml, the size of a wine bottle, from all undergraduate housing. The announcement notes that alcohol possession for those under 21 years of age remains forbidden entirely.

The school said in March it was developing a new policy to confront problems such as “alcohol poisoning, sexual assault and relationship violence, organizational conduct problems, and academic problems.”

The announcement comes after a highly publicized sexual assault case, in which a former Stanford University athlete, Brock Turner, was convicted of three counts of felony sexual assault. Turner, who was sentenced in June to only six months in jail, blamed his actions on alcohol and Stanford’s so-called “party culture.”
"I know I can impact and change people’s attitudes towards the culture surrounded by binge drinking and sexual promiscuity that protrudes through what people think is at the core of being a college student,” he wrote in a statement to the judge during the case. “I’ve been shattered by the party culture and risk-taking behavior that I briefly experienced in my four months at school.”

The anonymous woman said in her statement, later shared publicly, that alcohol was not an excuse. “Is it a factor? Yes. But alcohol was not the one who stripped me, fingered me, had my head dragging against the ground, with me almost fully naked,” she wrote. “Sipping Fireball is not your crime. Peeling off and discarding my underwear like a candy wrapper to insert your finger into my body, is where you went wrong. Why am I still explaining this.”

On social media, some are saying the policy is blaming alcohol, not assailants, for sexual assault.
Stanford law professor and family friend of the unidentified woman, Michele Landis Dauber, told The Guardian that she believed that the new policy came as a response to the case. “Brock Turner said he was a victim of Stanford’s alcohol culture…and I believe Stanford was really stung and embarrassed,” she told the newspaper.
In an emailed statement, Lisa Ann Lapin, the associate vice president for university communications, told Refinery29 that the new policy had no connection to the Brock Turner case. "[These] conversations began long ago and have been ongoing,” she wrote.

Editor's note: This post has been updated to include a statement from Stanford University.

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