By The Echo Editorial Board
The Echo Editorial Board consists of Co-Editor in Chief Chrysa Keenon, Co-Editor in Chief Gabby Carlson, Opinions Editor Drew Shriner, Features Editor Grace Hooley, News Co-Editor Rayce Patterson and News Co-Editor Holly Gaskill.
On May 11, 2018, The Echo printed an opinion article called "How the LTC is hurting Taylor," by Annabelle Blair. The article took a look at Taylor University's prohibition on alcohol and advocated for a change to be made to the Life Together Covenant (LTC) in order to allow students who met the legal age requirement to drink off campus.
Last week, The Echo Editorial Board got together to discuss the LTC's policy against alcohol consumption. While the topic remains controversial, there was a lack of consensus about what the LTC actually said and what it did not.
The LTC states in its entirety, "The community recognizes the potential risk to one's physical and psychological well-being in the use of alcoholic beverages. It also recognizes that use of alcoholic beverages can significantly and negatively impact the community. Accordingly, faculty, staff, and students will refrain from the use of alcoholic beverages. Alcoholic beverages are not served at any University functions or programs on or off campus."
The core component of this prohibition is community. Dean of Students Jesse Brown believes alcohol does not increase the kind of community that the Taylor as a whole desires.
The presence of alcohol can make it easier for more activities that are detrimental to community to occur by lowering people's self-control. As Title IX coordinator, Brown is concerned that alcohol can lead to more cases of sexual assault and sexual harassment. He also believes alcohol can also be used as a coping mechanism and can allow someone to avoid personal reflection.
This policy is not just for students enrolled at Taylor, but also applies to faculty and staff employed with Taylor as well. The Editorial Board in their discussion mentioned they believed there was an exception; as long as faculty and staff do not drink in the presence of Taylor students, they can drink alcohol off campus.
Although this is believed to be common knowledge on campus, the LTC does not list such an exception. Greg MaGee, professor of biblical studies, believes it's important that students, faculty and staff all adhere to this rule.
"There is an importance since we're all in this together," MaGee said. "We're all - faculty, staff, students - choosing to be here and recognizing the benefits of being a part of this specific community. So I do like the idea that faculty, staff and students are all buying into the same LTC, that we're all saying 'yes' to this willingly. We're all saying for this period of time, 'we're happy to buy in to these values and policies.'"
MaGee says the spirit of this prohibition is to free up the community by taking alcohol off the table and to focus on things that are more important.
The LTC policy on alcohol finds its scriptural basis in 1 Corinthians 8-10 and Romans 14-15, which, according to MaGee, states that for Christians the concern for the common good ought to be higher than the concern for individual freedoms and pleasures. Brown cites Galatians 5 and says, while the life of a believer is not defined completely by self-control, having self-control is part of what it means to be a believer.
During the discussion, The Editorial Board agreed to some points within Blair's article, and believes Taylor should have more opportunities for students to learn about alcohol and substance abuse. This can be done through many platforms, such as chapel messages or faculty panel discussions.
"I think we probably have people on our faculty and staff that have worked or studied in contexts where they've had to make decisions about alcohol use," MaGee said. "Some have probably chosen to drink in responsible ways and others have chosen to abstain. I think those would be productive conversations and panel discussions to talk about, especially in the workplace."
The Editorial Board stands by the Life Together Covenant and its prohibition on alcohol. However, we agree that Taylor should offer more ways for students to learn about alcohol and substance abuse from a distance, such as in the context of chapel or other classes.
The opinions expressed in Our View columns reflect the views of The Echo Editorial Board, and not necessarily those of Taylor University.