The obvious difference between Richmond University and Westminster College is the former is in London and the latter is in Pennsylvania. “Yes, of course,” you might say, “that has been in the title this whole time.” What is not in the title, at least until now, are the far more detailed differences in the two campuses. One of the more impactful, and likely most controversial, differences is that Richmond is a wet campus and Westminster is a dry campus. Richmond has given me the chance to experience both sides of this campus drinking coin. It is not the UK weather that makes the campus wet, but its alcohol policy. Alcoholic drinks can be kept and consumed in student dorm rooms, as well as at certain events, if you are of legal drinking age (18 in the UK). If you did not know, it is against Westminster policy, even if you are of legal drinking age (21 in the US), to have any alcohol in student dorms, and I have not encountered any official on campus Westminster events that serve alcohol.
So what do I think of a wet campus vs a dry campus? Well, Richmond looks a lot like Westminster: people are drinking in their dorm room and going to events with alcohol. The difference is the atmosphere here at Richmond is a lot more social than back home. People invite each other out to the pub, get a drink, and have a good time. The same goes for school events: we had our own Boat Prom, a get-to-know-each-other type party, a sip n’ paint, a Halloween party, and a winter ball. All of these events served alcohol, and none of these events featured somebody having to be picked up off the floor after throwing up from excessive drinking. I haven’t seen a single person close to that point. Granted, this could also be due to the lower drinking age and overall different views towards drinking in Europe. I am not saying that a wet campus is a solution to many of the problems experienced on a dry campus like Westminster. However, I do see it as an opportunity to promote a social drinking culture rather than the binge drinking I have come across. Again, this is just what I think based on my experience with the two alcohol policies. Looking around, I found a lot of mixed information of whether or not wet was better than dry. Both have their upsides and downsides. One thing is clear, though: dry does not stop students from drinking on campus. I do not think Westminster should immediately flip to a wet campus fully for this reason, but I would love a good sip n’ paint event. This could build into a fully wet campus as some more programs and resources are provided to promote the social side of drinking instead of bingeing.
To get a better idea of how others felt, I asked my fellow Westminster students both here and back home what their opinions were about a wet campus vs a dry campus. These were their responses:
“I am personally in favor of a wet campus. I believe that serving alcohol responsibly at school sanctioned events could be a great fundraiser and boost admission. It would give us an edge over other, similar schools in our area.” - Anonymous
“I think that becoming a wet campus would bring Westminster up to speed compared to other colleges.” - Anonymous
“Being on a wet campus, I have learned to drink safely and responsibly. With more freedom and without the fear of getting in trouble, I understand how to enjoy a drink without binge drinking. The party culture is different because there are not restricted times or places that you can/cannot drink on campus. In today’s social atmosphere, drinking is highly marketed to young adults; but being on a dry campus, it can be frustrating because it is difficult to partake in that part of life. The dry campus policy at Westminster made sense at one time; but now with the ban on liquor lifted in New Wilmington, I think it’s time Westminster made a change as well.” - Anonymous
“I think dry campuses make sense because not everyone is of legal age, but when something is explicitly forbidden, people seem to want to do it more, so a wet campus might be a more effective strategy.” - Anonymous
“A dry campus is a hopeless ideal.” - Anonymous
“It would be safer for people to drink in their own rooms than to be at fraternities they're unfamiliar with.” - Anonymous
“People here are able to drink without getting too drunk because they are allowed to drink in general. At Westminster you can't drink at all so when students get the chance to drink they go all out.” -Anonymous
Copy Edited by Nyna Hess