From Jan 17, 1920-Dec 5, 1933, the United States amended Constitution to ban the sale or possession of alcohol. In Alcohol and public policy: beyond the shadow of prohibition, Paul Aaron and David Musto write that before prohibition, “Drunkenness was condemned and punished, but only as an abuse of a God-given gift. Drink itself was not looked upon as culpable, any more than food deserved blame for the sin of gluttony. Excess was a personal indiscretion.” (Aaron & Musto, 1981) However, a social movement continued to demonstrate the “dangers” of alcoholic consumption, including heavy taxes levied on alcohol proposed as a so-called “sin tax.” You can read more in the Wikipedia article, which provides an excellent overview of the history of prohibition, even into recent times.

The point of all of this is to say that prohibition was tried and massively failed the 20th century. So why, you might ask, does Cedarville Township remain a dry town?

The point of all of this is to say that prohibition was tried and massively failed the 20th century. So why, you might ask, does Cedarville Township remain a dry town?

If you were to ask Cedarville University students, Dr. White—no, Dr. Wood—no, Dr. [insert basically any name]—no, the University itself—no, campus doge—owns the liquor license for the entire township. There’s a massive oral history of Cedarville University’s involvement with liquor licensing within the township. However, through research, we discovered that these statements are inaccurate. There is no lump-sum amount of liquor licenses available that can be bought up or controlled by one individual.

In order to obtain the most factual information about the rules and regulations behind Cedarville’s ban on alcohol, the Interpreter contacted the Ohio Department of Commerce, who deals with liquor licensing and regulations for the entire state. We inquired on why Cedarville is a dry town and who controls the liquor licenses within the township. Michael Gravely, the Public Relations officer for the ODC, informed us that Cedarville’s liquor licenses are controlled by popular vote. So, when the Rip/Shell Station apply for a liquor license, they must essentially campaign for the vote of Cedarville residents in order for their license to be approved.

Dry Counties (Red), Mixed Counties (Yellow), and Wet Counties (Blue), March 2012

Why does this matter?

Cedarville University, as discussed in this article, is strongly and unequivocally opposed to the use of alcohol, continuing in line with social constructs not followed since the 1930s. In Cedarville’s student handbook, students must agree that they are morally opposed to alcohol. Students are also commended to participate in civic engagement and vote their conscience. If students support use of alcohol, they can be dismissed from the University. The same goes for faculty and staff who largely reside in Cedarville township.

In other words, Cedarville University controls a vast majority of the vote on liquor licensing. By forcing students to adhere to the Student Handbook and forcing staff to adhere to the Staff/Faculty/Affiliate Handbook, Cedarville essentially forces them to vote against liquor licensing under threat of dismissal or loss of their job. Cedarville University ought to strongly consider rewriting their policies under Constitutional and Biblical considerations. Controlling the votes of Cedarville affiliates should be strongly discouraged. Cedarville must come to the realization that their policies would be illegal in nearly any other environment for good reason. Cedarville affiliates ought to be free to vote their conscience and behave in accordance with their conscience, not vote and behave under threat of dismissal or getting fired.

Cedarville University must accept change.

NOTE: The views expressed in this article certainly do not represent those of Cedarville University. Articles are submitted and written anonymously in order to protect the identities of students and non-students alike who could face backlash or punishment for expressing their viewpoints that differ in any way from Cedarville University.

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