When I was applying to transfer out of community college, PLNU was one of my top choices. Once I read the covenant required to apply, my desire to attend this school was only stronger.
It might seem strange to someone that a school telling me, a 19-year-old transfer student, that I was not allowed to smoke or drink during my time attending the school was such a selling point. For most of my friends attending other universities, the exact opposite was a reason why they wanted to attend college. They wanted freedom and less regulation and restrictions than they had at high school or at home.
However, for me, a dry campus offers a different kind of freedom.
I want to say as a disclaimer that I am not naive. I know very few people who have perfectly followed our school’s covenant without fault. But what is different to me is the culture of our school, as compared to other schools. Many colleges have a culture of drinking and smoking. A program called the Brief Alcohol and Screening Intervention for College Students found 86 percent of students they surveyed saw drinking as central in the social life of male students and 79 percent saw the same in female students.
Yes, students on a dry campus like PLNU may drink or smoke sometimes. But that is not the culture here. When you talk to people around our school, their lives, weekends, and experiences do not center around these activities. PLNU students are living differently than their peers. If you talk to a PLNU student about their experience at school, they don’t tell you about the parties and drinking and Greek life, as many others do. Instead, I have found that the majority will tell you about hiking to Potato Chip Rock, eating acai bowls, surfing, small groups, and intramurals.
I am so lucky to have been given the freedom to go to school with a culture that values those things.
Another reason I support PLNU’s dry campus policy is because it gives us the freedom to walk safely around campus. That is not to say that there are no issues of safety at PLNU. However, statistically our campus is safer than those around us. The obvious contrast is between SDSU and PLNU, two schools that are in close proximity. In SDSU’s 2016 Title IV annual security report, they reported 11 sexual assaults, 14 burglaries, 15 drug violations, and 4 weapon violations. In PLNU’s annual security report, we reported 0 cases of sexual assault, 0 cases of burglary, 8 drug violations, and 0 weapon violations. It is always important to keep in mind the offenses that do not get reported-but still, the difference is astounding.
On another statistical level, dry schools are effective in promoting healthy drinking practices. The 2001 in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol found that “students who attend schools that banned alcohol were 30 percent less likely to engage in binge drinking” and it was more probable that they would “abstain from using alcohol than were students who attended schools where alcohol was not banned.” Cutting down these activities means increased safety for all students, including those who are not drinking. Harvard Health Services found that “a huge body of research links alcohol consumption with sexual assaults and other forms of violence. And then there are the injuries and deaths, most often traced to drunk driving.” Limiting binge drinking on campus limits those incidents as well and helps to keep students safe.
When my friends talk about their college experiences, there are times when I feel like we are talking about different worlds. They are shocked that we leave our laptops sitting in the cafeteria, that we rarely lock our doors, and that people say hi to you on campus, even if you have just met briefly in class. The reality is that our college experience at PLNU is different-and I wouldn’t have it any other way.