Recent changes in Hope College’s board of trustees have had major impacts on student life and education. After extensive review, Hope students managed to convince the board to allow students to join with voting power in order to better represent student opinion in the formation of college policies. With a diverse range of 20 students joining the board of trustees, Hope has seen changes across several of its policies, but none with as much of an impact as the drug and alcohol policy.
Hope’s drug and alcohol policy now not only allows students to drink alcohol on campus but requires it for all students over the age of 21. If students over 21 do not have a drink with them in classes, they must return to their place of living and not attend class. The policy was passed just over a week ago, and several complaints have already been made by faculty as well as several positive comments made by students.
“I believe that Hope’s new policy has a great disregard for the quality of education Hope has the ability to offer,” one professor commented. The professor wishes to remain unnamed, fearful that the new board of students would have the power to eliminate his position at the school. “Students have been coming to class completely inebriated at 9:30 in the morning. It’s disgraceful.”
While some professors are not in favor of the ruling, other professors have expressed hope that this will allow students to more responsibly manage their drinking. Organic chemistry professors are especially happy with the ruling, as they are now able to synthesize moonshine in class with students. “We’ve seen so much more interest in organic chemistry now that we are allowed to make moonshine with them,” stated the head of the chemistry department.
Similarly, Hope has seen an immediate rise in clubs related to alcohol. The Brewers Club has already started a microbrewery at Hope, aiming to partner with the Kletz Market and offer a range of different beers for students to try and purchase. More sophisticated students have explored making wine at the Wine and Dine Club. Younger students are encouraged to partake in club activities, even though they cannot drink legally.
Beyond professorial opinions, students have expressed a range of opinions on the new policy. “I already hate coming to class,” one student, Brenda Sobrita, commented. “The people who drink just end up falling asleep at their desks. Everything smells like alcohol, and people will puke in the Pine Grove. It’s disgusting!”
On the other hand, students will tailgate in the VanderPlex plaza and the Pine Grove all day, offering drinks and friendship to anyone who passes. “Yeah, I love having a wet campus,” Chad Fraterson told me. “I really enjoy coming to school now. I think I’m really getting what I want out of my college experience. Now every day is for the boys, not just Saturdays.”
“You mean Naturdays,” another student yelled, holding up his Natural Light beer can. “I’m off to cultural heritage!” His friends cheered him on as he ran off to class, beer in hand.
Alcohol wasn’t the only thing to change in the drug and alcohol policy. Marijuana is now allowed on campus as long as it is in line with state laws. Students who share an interest in marijuana have opened a dispensary in conjunction with the bookstore, which had also begun selling CBD oil upon the policy change.
“College has really become a hands-on educational experience for me,” said MaryJane McHigh, one of the students who led the opening of the dispensary. “Now I have real experience opening my own business. It’s very profitable, too. Tons of people on campus want our product.”
“Yeah man, Hope finally has dope, and that’s really great for me,” one student commented as he exited the dispensary. “Really helps me with stress relief, you know?”
People now refer to the Bultman Student Center as “party central,” where everyone goes to get product and hang out. Sales at the Kletz Market have already skyrocketed as students stop at the bookstore for a joint and head over to the Kletz for a snack or two (or ten). Phelps Dining Hall has also had a lot more involvement as students get their beer on tap or make their own mixed drinks at the soda bar with their liquor of choice.
Hope’s Physical Plant has employed more student workers as a result of the policy change. With more grounds work to clean up, cans to pick up and maintenance to be done, students have been busy making money with the policy change. “We’re allowed to keep all the cans we pick up during our shifts,” one student worker told me. “I’ve already made nearly 100 dollars just off of returns. It’s unbelievable how many people just throw their cans on the ground!”
“Room maintenance requests are at an all-time high,” said Paul Phys, head of Physical Plant. “Students have broken their loft beds, punched out screens and done all sorts of damage to the rooms in their intoxication. I’m not sure if it will cost Hope more to repair everything than what they will get in profit from selling alcohol and other products.”
The student board of trustees has more plans to expand Hope’s wet campus culture on bar night and with the breweries in Holland. “The policy change has really allowed us to partner more fully with Holland businesses, making their products available on our campus and encouraging students to go out downtown to their favorite breweries on any day of the week, not just Wednesday night,” Emma Poliscimon disclosed as we discussed what the policy change offered Hope.
We can only wait to see how the policy change will impact Hope and student education, as well as if it will be a profitable venture for Hope. For now, students continue to drink openly in class, during exams and all over campus.