By Annabelle Blair | Contributor
Hypocrisy: when we claim to live one way, but actually live another. At Taylor we profess to be a community of truth, love and honesty - except, maybe, when it comes to breaking aspects of the Life Together Covenant (LTC), especially drinking.
The LTC prohibits drinking because "use of alcoholic beverages can significantly and negatively impact the community" and pose a "potential risk to one's physical and psychological well-being."
My issue with the LTC's stance is the lack of education and culture of silence its ban on alcohol promotes. I have no problem with Taylor being a dry campus, but I think it would be beneficial to allow off-campus alcohol consumption for students who meet the legal age requirement.
Taylor prepares students to think critically about their values, theology and philosophy. Thus, Taylor is a healthy environment to learn to drink safely, wisely and with restraint. Students should have the opportunity to use self-control in this area while being part of an intentional Christian community.
May Young, assistant professor of biblical studies, said the LTC exists to benefit the entire Taylor community.
"When we voluntarily commit ourselves to the LTC we acknowledge that we are living in a fellowship where we are dependent on and accountable to one another," Young said. "These recognitions, coupled with the fact that the majority of our students are under the legal drinking age of 21, should give us pause with regard to revising our policy."
Young's concern was echoed by Jeff Cramer, associate professor of computer science and engineering, who said that allowing students to drink could undermine community, "changing Taylor's community minded ethos."
Valid concerns - but if the goal is to promote community, banning alcohol limits conversations, which discourages healthy community.
Students who leave Taylor unfamiliar with the effects of alcohol and unaware of their personal limits may be more likely to over-consume. A social gathering where drinking is conventional becomes awkward: they don't know how to order a drink, how much alcohol their body can tolerate and how to engage with people who are under its influence.
For women, being unaware of their consumption limits could increase the risk of physical danger from sexual assault or harassment. In these cases, inexperience is not merely unfortunate; it's costly.
Julia Oller ('16), a Taylor alumni, said she doesn't have a problem with the LTC restricting drinking, but she does take issue with Taylor's refusal to educate students about alcohol or to acknowledge that drinking is a reality for many people.
"Taylor treats alcohol as an all or nothing thing," Oller said. "But you can drink without getting plastered every night."
When students sign the LTC, promising to abstain from drinking, they make a commitment that may not reflect their personal beliefs. Requiring such commitments from students should not be done lightly. Because drinking is not a moral issue for all students, their personal convictions to follow the policy may be limited, as obligation outweighs conviction.
Personally, I would be surprised if a single student on campus either doesn't know someone who drank while under the LTC or hasn't drank themselves. If the LTC is being blatantly violated, Taylor culture is effectively filled with hypocrites. The many students who pretend to uphold a policy they find unnecessary or extreme deal with the cognitive dissonance in their heads between keeping their word (their signature on the LTC) and exploring an aspect of culture and life that they find meaningful or enjoyable.
Those who violate the LTC join a culture of shame and silence, and those who uphold the LTC prepare themselves for stigmatization and potentially dangerous situations post-Taylor.