20 dry college campuses across America

By Rachel Cavanaugh, Stacker

When people think of the college experience, many might remember wild parties with lots of alcohol and debauchery. But it isn't like that for everyone. If fact, many students choose alcohol-free colleges where they can focus on their schoolwork instead, reducing their chances of being distracted by late-night parties or raucous keggers. Some students choose the dry campus route for their academic futures, while others are motivated by religious reasons. Others simply want to attend that particular school and don't mind abstaining from alcohol to do so.

Two decades ago, 1 in 3 American college campuses were dry, according to a Harvard study detailed in a 2005 article published in The Economist ("Booze control"). Without any official organization tracking the numbers, it's hard to say what the figures are today, but there's certainly no shortage of campuses with hefty alcohol policies. Some campuses are completely dry, prohibiting all beer, wine, and liquor, while others allow specific types of alcohol or permit it in designated places. For example, Brigham Young and the College of the Ozarks are both 100% dry with strict consequences for students caught violating their policies. American University and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, on the other hand, are "permit only" campuses where permission can be granted on special occasions for pre-designated events. Stanford University and the University of Minnesota allow some types of alcohol, but have bans on hard liquor.

Interestingly, there is some evidence to suggest that campuses where alcohol is permitted have fewer alcohol-related arrests. One theory behind this phenomenon, if true, is that students who drink underage or break other rules on “wet” campuses tend to receive a warning first before the police get involved, lowering the number of public citations. At dry universities, by contrast, there are fewer measures in place to handle drinking incidents, and the police are more likely to be called, resulting in more arrests. These universities may also take the offense more seriously and therefore alert the police more often.

Whatever the case, dry campuses remain popular. To give an idea of the range of alcohol-free schools out there, Stacker has rounded up 20 of the best dry campuses in America, ranging from strict zero-alcohol policies to mixed-use policies.

Baylor University - Texas

Located in Waco, Texas, Baylor University bans the possession and use of alcohol in any form on campus, as well as at any university-related events. The Protestant Baptist college also prohibits unlawful possession or consumption of alcohol such as underage drinking anywhere, whether on campus or off. Students caught in violation of the alcohol policy are subject to disciplinary measures ranging from gentle warnings to expulsion. In 2012, the college newspaper published an editorial challenging the policy, stating: “The time is coming for Baylor to face facts. Like dancing, or walking on the same side of the street as a member of the opposite sex, the prohibition of alcohol is something that Baylor needs to revisit.”

American University - Washington D.C.

Although American University in Washington D.C. has historically been a dry campus, it's transitioned in recent years to what some have called a “damp” college. Students are still not allowed to drink in the residence halls, the Bender Arena, or any open-air events at the private Christian university. Additionally, event coordinators cannot advertise that alcohol will be available at events, nor can they sponsor any all-you-can-drink or Bring Your Own Beverage (BYOB) promotions. Earlier this year, students voted 81% in favor of a referendum to allow alcohol at on-campus athletic games, prompting a discussion about whether additional policy changes need to be made.

Brigham Young University - Utah

With deep Mormon roots, Brigham Young University is a fully dry campus where students vow to abstain from all drugs and alcohol for the duration of their time at the college, whether they're on campus or not and regardless of whether they're of legal drinking age. As part of the same Honor Code statement, students also pledge to abstain from tobacco, coffee, and tea, to use clean language, and to regularly attend church services. Additionally, the university prohibits students from engaging in any gambling, sexual misconduct, involvement with pornographic material, and any other “action inconsistent with the principles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

University of Oklahoma - Oklahoma

The University of Oklahoma (OU) in Norman is another example of a “damp” college with mixed alcohol policies. The most notable thing is that none of its fraternities or sororities are currently allowed to have alcoholic beverages of any kind on their premises. The public research university maintains a “three strike” policy where students first receive a parent notification, then a sanction, then a full suspension (with a one-semester minimum). The policy was prompted in part after 19-year-old freshman Blake Hammontree died at a fraternity party in 2004 with a reported blood-alcohol content of 0.42%.

University of Minnesota Twin Cities - Minnesota

Similarly to OU, the University of Minnesota's strict alcohol policy was prompted after the back-to-back deaths of two students due to alcohol. In February 2018, 20-year-old Mitchell Hoenig died of alcohol complications after a sorority party; then in September that same year, sophomore Dylan Fulton choked to death on vomit after drinking with fellow fraternity members. Weeks after Fulton's death, administrators at the university's Interfraternity Council (IFC) banned all hard alcohol at fraternity events. Alcohol is also prohibited at all but four residence halls, even for students 21 years and older.

College of the Ozarks - Missouri

The College of the Ozarks is a tuition-free liberal arts school in Point Lookout, Mo. The conservative Christian college doesn't allow its students to use alcohol of any kind, regardless of their age or whether they're drinking on or off campus. The Zero Tolerance Policy bars the possession or use of alcohol or drugs under any circumstances. It also prohibits students from wearing any clothes or displaying signs and bumper stickers that promote or advertise alcohol. Violation of the school's alcohol policy is strictly enforced and can be grounds for immediate expulsion.

Bridgewater College - Virginia

This private university located in Bridgewater, Va., bans the possession or consumption of all alcohol on campus with the exception of certain pre-approved, school-sanctioned events. Students who are caught with any alcohol on campus are subject to the school's student conduct process which can involve either its Conduct Board or its Honor Council, both of which may carry out disciplinary actions. That said, the school often offers what it calls “restorative justice” alternatives to make the situation a learning experience. “We believe in giving second chances when they are deserved while respecting the rights of all members of the campus community,” its website says.

Indiana University - Indiana

Indiana University is a completely dry campus where the use of alcohol is strictly prohibited everywhere, including in all residence halls, fraternities, and sororities. Furthermore, it bans any form of public intoxication or providing alcohol “contrary to law.” There's an exception where students 21 and over may seek special permission from the dean to drink under the supervision of a chaperone—but it's a scenario the student newspaper has called “unlikely.” In fact, in an April 2018 op-ed, Tiffany Xie and Nishant Mohile wrote: “The dry campus policy is not only ineffective, it actively makes IU students less safe. ... Turning a blind eye is easier than instituting structural changes, but that is exactly what is needed.”

George Fox University - Oregon

Founded by Quakers in the late 19th century, George Fox University is a proudly Christian college that bans the consumption of alcohol on campus at all times, except for special, pre-authorized events wherein coordinators must seek conditional approval from the president's executive team. “While we recognize that committed Christians differ in how they view the consumption of alcoholic beverages, it is clear that the improper use of alcohol by students, faculty or staff could bring much harm to the communities of George Fox University,” reads the college's community lifestyle statement.

Northwestern University - Illinois

Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., has been a completely dry campus in the past, although the policy has shifted some in recent years. As of 2016, the private research university permits student groups to serve alcohol at events to students who are 21 or older. They must get approval from the vice president for student affairs, however, and agree to the certain risk management principles. Some of the changes occurred as Associated Student Government (ASG) President Nehaarika Mulukutla was coming into office. Mulukutla campaigned on an effort to end the university's dry campus policy, although she said she didn't know about the changes until after she was sworn in.

Meredith College - North Carolina

Set in North Carolina's capital, Meredith College is considered a dry campus where alcohol is banned in all dorms and all college buildings, although there is a stipulation that students 21 and over may drink in individual on-campus apartments. The women's liberal arts college in Raleigh, which also has a co-ed graduate program, also prohibits drinking of alcoholic beverages at college-sponsored events.

Stanford University - California

In 2016, Stanford banned hard alcohol at all undergraduate parties on campus. It also required event coordinators to register all parties on campus ahead of time with the university. The move came after a high-profile rape case in which Stanford student Brock Turner was convicted of several counts of felony sexual assault, although the university said the change in policy was not related. In the preamble to its alcohol policy, administrators pointed to the school's “fundamental standard,” which expects students to show “respect for order, morality, personal honor and the rights of others as is demanded of good citizens.”

AdventHealth University - Florida

Based in Orlando, Fla. with a satellite campus in Denver, AdventHealth University is a Christian health and sciences university that prohibits the possession and consumption of all types of alcohol on campus without exception, explaining that the “use of alcohol is counterproductive to a successful and safe environment.” Students who break the rules in this regard are subject to a range of disciplinary actions. The Seventh-day Adventist university promotes faith-based health education that produces students intent on practicing “healthcare as a ministry.”

Lipscomb University - Tennessee

Located in the Green Hills neighborhood of Nashville, Tenn., Lipscomb University's dry campus places an outright ban on the purchase, possession, or consumption of all types of alcohol on the premises. Additionally, any form of intoxication is grounds for disciplinary action for both students and faculty, on and off campus. The private Christian liberal arts school also bars its students from entering or hanging out at bars or other institutions where the key purpose is to sell or consume liquor. The southern university is rooted in the Churches of Christ values and beliefs.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln - Nebraska

This public research university situated in the capital city of Nebraska is almost fully dry, although it does make “rare exceptions” for students 21 and over for special pre-authorized events or scenarios where alcohol is involved in research. The Omaha World-Herald Nebraskan reports, however, that underage students are “routinely busted through the year by the UNL Police Department” and that a student of legal drinking age “may still be cited for drinking on university property (a misdemeanor) and referred for student disciplinary action.” This March, the school's Interfraternity Council passed a measure prohibiting hard liquor, defined as 30-proof or higher, at all chapter events with a few exceptions for licensed third-party vendors.

Purdue University - Indiana

Purdue University is another public research university with a mostly dry campus. According to the school's drug and alcohol policy, all forms of alcohol are forbidden on campus with just a few exceptions including in married student apartments, Union Club guest rooms, and resident rooms in graduate houses. That said, some argue that even though the college calls itself “dry,” the term is misleading, especially given that it sells alcohol at sporting events. “The University isn't necessarily shoving red Solo cups into its students' hands, but it certainly isn't yanking them out either,” wrote Alexandra Weliever for The Exponent student newspaper.

Landmark College - Vermont

Landmark College is a private university in Vermont aimed at students with autism, attention disorders, and other learning disabilities. The college is 100% dry, and administrators prohibit the possession and consumption of all forms of alcohol anywhere on campus. Landmark's alcohol policy is strictly enforced and failure to comply can result in a student's dismissal. “The College recognizes that alcohol is a legal substance for some students but believes that a living and learning community such as ours operates best when all students are held to the same standard regarding alcohol,” reads the policy.

Villanova University - Pennsylvania

Villanova University is a private research college in southeastern Pennsylvania with Roman Catholic roots. Although it allows some lawful drinking on campus, hard liquor is prohibited in all residence halls, as are alcoholic punches (aka “jungle juices”), caffeinated alcohol (i.e. vodka-Red Bulls), grain alcohol, and Jell-O shots. Open alcoholic beverages are not allowed in common areas such as hallways or lounges, and all participation in drinking games, chugging, “shot-gunning,” consuming shots, or other binge-drinking activities are strictly prohibited.

Emmanuel College - Massachusetts

This historical women's college, which became co-ed in 2001, is situated in Boston, Mass. The private Catholic university is a fully dry campus where the possession and use of alcohol is forbidden on campus, as well as at any off-campus university-sponsored events. On top of that, students are barred from participating in any college-affiliated activities while under the influence of alcohol. Like Villanova, the liberal arts school also bans paraphernalia such as shot glasses, drinking game accessories, and other binge drinking devices.

University of Missouri-Columbia - Missouri

The University of Missouri—aka “Mizzou”—is almost completely alcohol-free with the exception being inside the president's and chancellor's residences. There are also certain designated facilities that can serve alcohol by permit, or special events where the sale and consumption may be pre-authorized by the administration. Yet even with these restrictions, Greek life is huge at the Midwestern university with more than 7,200 students participating. In 2018, a consultant recommended banning freshmen from chapter houses and earlier this year, the school announced that new rules will be put in place over the next two years (freshmen may remain while the details are sorted out).

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Career Magazine: 20 dry college campuses across America
20 dry college campuses across America
This slideshow features 20 of the top dry college campuses in the United States where students either aren’t permitted to drink alcohol or use is extremely limited. Schools include American University, Brigham Young, Northwestern, and others.
Career Magazine
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