It may be a sad commentary that this subject is what sticks with me after four years at St. Lawrence, but here we are: the keg ban is absurd, archaic, and counter-intuitive. Arguments have been made time and time again, but let us go back over them, as I leave a final plea with the St. Lawrence administration – use your heads instead of abiding by conventional wisdom. Getting students to move toward beer and away from liquor is a principal concern. By allowing, or encouraging, kegs on campus, St. Lawrence could try to get their students to drink beer instead of taking shots of hard liquor, reducing the risk of alcohol poisoning and excessive drinking. I know that St. Lawrence may not be able to admit publicly that most of their students drink underage, but they do. The university already sort of does admit that when they tell us at freshman orientation that their goal is not to go after us about drinking, but to keep us safe. If that is really the university’s goal, then kegs should be allowed. As a student at Dartmouth University pointed out in a 2014 article for The Dartmouth Review, and contributor Bill Frezza pointed out the same year to Business Insider, the flow of alcohol from a keg is much slower than that of a can. The ability to throw back a beer and immediately refill is slowed when drinking from a keg. Cans encourage shotgunning, drinking quickly, and drinking continuously. There is no break to stand in line to refill.
After living in the Green House for three years, you could probably guess the argument that is coming next. Cans are considerably worse for the environment than kegs, and houses like my own feel the effects of that. Assuming each one of us goes through even one thirty rack of beer per month, that means there are 330 cans that need to be returned, processed, shipped off, and recycled. Instead, the 11 of us could get a keg, and the only environmental costs involved are what it took to make the keg the first time and the transportation emissions to get it home. We could use our own glasses in the house, thereby avoiding unnecessary additional waste.
As far back as 1991, The New York Times evaluated keg bans, looking at what different schools and national fraternities were doing at the time. A study in 1999 by Kilmer (no further information was available, it was cited by multiple others) showed that after one year of a keg ban, “number of drinks per occasion” at fraternities actually increased, with the theory being that students were turning to liquor. What I want to leave St. Lawrence’s administration with is at least a way to open up a discussion. Are we banning kegs for any particular reason? If so, why can’t the administration articulate those points? If not, can we have a meaningful conversation, as a community, about how we should move forward? I think that if that occurred, the result would be a lifting of the keg ban, and a safer, more secure, and yes, more fun, campus community.