Do All Christian Colleges Ban Alcohol on Campus?

drinkingIn many households, the decision on where to attend college is not made solely based upon academic or financial concerns. While the quality of a college’s academic programs and its affordability are major considerations, many parents also are concerned with the social environment that their teenager will be exposed to while away at school.

Families that have Christian religious views as an important value may prefer to send their children to a Christian college to help ensure an appropriate social environment. These parents may be surprised to learn that not all Christian colleges ban alcohol on campus; indeed, the terms “Christian college” and “dry campus” are not synonymous. Concordia College in Irvine, CA is an example of a conservative Christian college that allows alcohol consumption on campus. While many Christian colleges are dry, there are a large number of secular schools that also ban alcohol on campus. These secular college campuses are likely dry due to liability, not religious, concerns.

What is a dry campus?

The effect that a dry campus has on student alcohol consumption varies. A dry campus simply means that no alcohol is sold or permitted within the geographic boundaries of the college; if it is easy for students to leave campus and drink, a dry campus is not much of a limitation. There are some religious colleges such as Brigham Young in Utah which are not only dry but require students to sign a pledge to abstain from alcohol. Brigham Young is not only a dry campus but students cannot drink anywhere, on or off campus. A secular school like the University of Oklahoma, on the other hand, has a dry campus but no prohibition against off-campus alcohol use.

Effects of a dry campus and student life

If families want send their student to be in an alcohol-free college environment, sending him or her to a Christian college with a dry campus may or may not be the right answer. If students can easily obtain alcohol off-campus, the culture of the school will be influenced regardless of its dry status.

Approximately one third of all colleges, both Christian and secular, in the United States have dry campuses. Dry campuses are so prevalent since it is believed that they reduce student drinking with the consequent effects of improved academic performance, reduced risky sexual activities and adverse effects on the outside community. On the other hand, students of legal drinking age often feel that dry campus policies interfere with their freedom to engage in legal activities and invade their privacy.

The decision on which college to attend is important and should be made after doing the research to determine which schools meet your academic and social requirements. If an alcohol-free environment is a key consideration in the college selection process, do not automatically assume that a Christian college is the best choice. There are many public and private secular colleges that have dry campuses and there are also Christian colleges that are not dry. Keep this fact in mind when doing research on colleges.

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