Ban on alcohol, gambling, tobacco lifted for graduate students
Graduate students are no longer required to abstain from alcohol, tobacco or gambling. The change in behavioral standards went into effect immediately following the announcement from President Barry Corey on Sept. 27, according to a press release from the president’s office.
CHANGE IN BEHAVIORAL STANDARD
There are no plans to adjust the current undergraduate standards of conduct, said Chris Grace, vice president for student development and university planning.
“The rationale is that we place high value in, and we have willingly agreed to abide by, such community standards, for the sake of our larger and highly residential Christian community, even if one’s geographic living situation or personal standards may differ,” Grace said.
Aside from the previous transition, this vision stems from the idea that the university should let the student make decisions between themselves and the Lord, rather than the institution making decisions for them, Grace said. Allowing the graduate students to make this decision on their own felt like an acknowledgement of a natural transition in developmental maturity.
With this new freedom comes a new set of responsibilities, Grace said.
“I think that the heart and the intent of this is to have our students make a decision between [them] and the Lord. God’s word doesn’t forbid alcohol,” Grace said.
The change in rules for the graduate students was made after two years of review by a task force made up of staff and faculty, Grace said.
“This task force began to look at the standards we hold employees to and then went and spoke to the deans of all the graduate schools, and realized that we had to keep in alignment the way the policy was working given the demographics of our graduate students,” Grace said.
TIME FOR STUDENTS TO MAKE THEIR OWN CALL
The growing amount of graduate students over a wide-spread area, coming from culturally diverse backgrounds, has contributed to the recognition of the fact that it was time for graduate students to make this call on their own, Grace said.
Ten years ago, the board went through the same process with faculty and staff. In the
past, faculty were not allowed to consume alcohol in any form for the duration of their employment. Today, the staff is not under regulations pertaining to alcohol, tobacco use, or gambling. According to Grace, the smooth sailing of this transition eased the minds of those making the decision to lift the drinking ban for the graduates. Throughout this rule change, no problems arose, Grace said.
“We didn’t have one single instance where a faculty member said, ‘Oh, I’m going to drink now. I hadn’t before, but now that it’s okay, I’m going to,’” Grace said.
Many graduate students agree with the university’s new approach to this issue.
Talbot student Samantha Guzzi said that she believes that each student will be individually led by the Holy Spirit as to the consumption of alcohol. She believes that it varies between people and although one may struggle to consume alcohol without being a slave to it, another may not.
“It’s about respecting the school and honoring the Lord with your time here. But, not just with your time here, your life,” Guzzi said.
Similarly, Esther Choi, a graduate student at the Cook School of Intercultural Studies, said that she thinks that the board’s decision is a positive one because of the wide range of students who attend Biola’s graduate programs.
Choi explained that the lifting of the ban is a positive for her because now, when her family drinks socially at dinner, she will be able to partake.
Grace explained that in the midst of varying opinions on alcohol consumption, the heart is what really matters. After all, he said, the Bible may not forbid drinking as a whole, but it does forbid us from causing our neighbors to stumble.
“Our witness and our testimony is paramount, isn’t it?” Grace said.