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Stanford's New Liquor Ban Is Already Controversial

The school is banning liquor at most campus parties for undergrads, but critics argue the ban ducks the real problem: rape culture in America.
August 23, 2016, 10:50pmUpdated on December 9, 2016, 10:32pm
Photo via Flickr user quinn norton

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Stanford University is banning hard alcohol from most on-campus events for undergrads after a national firestorm erupted over the lenient sentencing of convicted rapist and former school athlete Brock Turner, as Newsweek reports.

Containers of liquor that are more than 750 mL and over 40 proof will also be prohibited in undergraduate housing generally, the school announced Monday.

"We must create a campus community that allows for alcohol to be a part of the social lives of some of our students, but not to define the social and communal lives of all of our students," Greg Boardman, vice provost for student affairs, wrote to students.

Turner was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster after a Stanford frat party earlier this year. He was subsequently sentenced to just six months in jail after blaming his attack on "party culture."

Not long after it went public, the new alcohol policy—which the school denies was a response to the Turner saga—was promptly criticized for missing the big picture. That is, women are routinely preyed on by men who often evade appropriate punishment in a dysfunctional criminal-justice system. Not only that, but some advocates say the new rule effectively reaffirms the rapist's defense by putting the onus on victims of sexual assault. Stanford law professor Michele Landis Dauber, a leader of the recall campaign against the judge who handled Turner's case, went so far as to argue it "makes students less safe by incentivizing pre-gaming and heavy drinking in private rooms" rather than drinking socially at an event on campus.

"Sadly Stanford appears to agree with Brock Turner that 'alcohol' and 'party culture' are to blame for his conduct," Dauber tweeted Monday, apparently referring to the phrase "campus culture around alcohol" appearing in the new rule's announcement.

The rule also doesn't seem likely to account for the role of Greek Life in some campus crimes, including rapes like the one committed by Turner.

"It's hard to look at this policy with respect to fraternities and be very optimistic," Douglas Fierberg, a Washington, DC–based attorney with experience in college hazing cases, told USA Today.

Read: Brock Turner Claims 'Party Culture' Led Him to Commit Sexual Assault