Are alcohol fines the most effective policy?

Colleen Curry

Drinking is one of most the talked about topics on college campuses, Villanova not excluded. While some students may be more concerned about finding out where the best parties take place, other members of the University community prefer to focus on the risks involved with these social engagements. Either way, the subject of alcohol is hard to ignore in a university setting.

According to the popular college web forum,, the majority of Villanova students include drinking as one of their typical weekend night activities. Although this behavior is far from being condoned by the University, it is an issue that the administration acknowledges and addresses through its policies.

According to the Code of Student Conduct, consumption or possession of alcohol in public areas by anyone is prohibited. Kegs and paraphernalia are prohibited everywhere and for everyone. Possession of alcohol by persons under the age of 21 is prohibited everywhere.

Infractions of the Code most often result in fines. For more serious infractions,

community service and alcohol education are included as additional forms of punishment. Students can be fined anywhere from $50 to more than $500. The purpose of these rules on campus, as stated in The Code of Student Conduct, is “to facilitate growth through values education.”

But are fines really effective in accomplishing this goal? Is the punishment enough of a deterrent to decrease the amount of drinking that occurs on campus?

In a survey of students-drinkers and non-drinkers-almost all agreed that the threat of a fine played no part in their decision to break or follow the rules. As some respondents explained, even though parents are not always notified, many times the bill is sent directly from the student to home and thus, ends up making the parents’ checkbooks-not the students-feel the biggest burden. However, they admitted that more serious consequences, such as probation or documentation, occasionally make them think twice, especially if they have had prior warnings.

Many students, and even some faculty, believe that the fine system is no longer serving its desired purpose. Nowadays students view fines more as a nuisance than as an actual reprimand. Even if the University were to increase the fines, students would look at this rule simply as a way for Villanova to take more of their money. Writing a check will not make a student reevaluate his or her life choices.

Alternatives to fines have been suggested and proposed in an attempt to decrease alcohol consumption on campus. More rigorous alcohol education classes, loss of privileges, such as housing or studying abroad, and visits with substance abuse counselors are just a few of the punishments implemented at other colleges. If Villanova wants its students to understand the gravity of the situation and curtail drinking on campus, perhaps the University should (re) consider some these options.