The topic of whether Gonzaga is a dry campus or not is often a murky one. 

Through GU's mission to help students live and learn in a safe atmosphere, legal drinking is allowed on campus in certain ‘drinking areas’: promoting healthy drinking. 

That being said, the policies the university has toward illegal drinking needs greater awareness. 

For decades, colleges across America have declared their institutions to be either "wet" or "dry" campuses. In fact, according to a study done by Harvard University, 1 in 3 campuses in America are considered "dry." Such terminology refers to allowing legal drinking on campus or prohibiting any alcohol on its premises. This administrative decision is often based on the institution’s religious beliefs, values or past history with alcohol. 

Many visitors to GU would probably assume it’s a "dry" campus because of the Catholic, Jesuit-based beliefs rooted in the university and the expectation of excellence for all students. Even though such an assumption is false, the lesson GU is teaching students about drinking aligns with its mission completely. 

Such drinking areas include the Bulldog Restaurant located on the second floor of the Hemmingson Student Center, residence hall apartments of students 21 years or older and various approved event areas on campus.  

There are some exceptions to this rule because although alcohol is prohibited in the McCarthey Athletic Center, there are events held before the games for alumni, executive directors and other adults with a close relation to GU in close proximity to the gym.  

If adults are able to drink before the basketball games, then why can’t legal drinking for students occur in similar areas before the games as well? 

Allowing legal drinking in certain areas on campus doesn’t deprive students of college party culture, but limits problematic binge-drinking. If GU simply denied all students from drinking, even those who were of age, they’d only want to party more. Such intense rules would also create an illusion that GU is a naive institution, thinking all its students never drank or partied.  

This is far from the truth. 

Since GU is well aware of the underage drinking occurring on campus, a set of guidelines of consequences for various drinking behavior is part of the school’s alcohol policy. Such violations of the alcohol policy are divided into four classes; each class intensifying with situations and punishments. The consequences vary from an alcohol education class, monetary fines and in some cases, suspension.  

The difficult aspect of enforcing the alcohol policy is having a clear sense as to what rule the student violated. 

Many situations of underage drinking on campus become circumstances of he said, she said nonsense, which Resident Assistant's (RA) and Campus Security must decipher.  

In such cases, everyone involved in the illegal activity is questioned by staff and the details are attempted to be sorted out. This process usually is long, confusing and exhausting for all parties involved. 

A more productive, reliable way of enforcing the alcohol policy to underage drinkers may include a required class for all freshmen. Although an online class is required for first-year students before coming to campus, having a real class would be more impactful.  

In having required conversations, students could converse on ways to embrace alcohol policies and abide by the law. 

Students need a better understanding in order to stay informed of the risks they’re taking. The official alcohol policy explanation doesn’t seem well advertised or distributed to students, creating higher chances of students to violate the rules. If the freshmen drinking class was established, the policies could be better introduced. 

GU has created great guidelines as to what legal drinking activity is allowed, it just needs to find ways for students to actually read and understand the rules and law.


Emma Ulring is a contributor. 

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