Reforming Emerson#039;s flawed alcohol policy

by Beacon Staff • October 4, 2006

Our View: We need an alcohol policy that makes sense

It's official: the streets of America are safer. With Willie Nelson being issued a misdemeanor citation for possession of marijuana and psilocybin mushrooms and Tommy Chong still reeling from his nine month prison stint for selling drug paraphernalia, families all across the country can sleep safer knowing these two men have learned their lesson.,At Issue: Examining the rise in alcohol violations at Emerson

Our View: We need an alcohol policy that makes sense

It's official: the streets of America are safer. With Willie Nelson being issued a misdemeanor citation for possession of marijuana and psilocybin mushrooms and Tommy Chong still reeling from his nine month prison stint for selling drug paraphernalia, families all across the country can sleep safer knowing these two men have learned their lesson.

So too can the parents of Emersonians after reading the Department of Public Safety's annual report, which shows that alcohol violations have increased steadily over the past two years. Unless, of course, parents are more concerned with issues like campus safety than college drinking.

The rise in alcohol violations does nothing to make our campus safer.

They will not prevent those who are caught to swear off partying. And, as is clear by the increase of incidents, they don't act as a deterrent.

What do they prove? Simply that students are getting lazier or less creative when it comes to boozing in the dorms.

For a college so committed to innovation, Emerson's drug and alcohol policy is remarkably unimaginative. People are caught and fined and that's basically it. Other schools around the country, however, are proving that it doesn't have to be this way.

Grinnell College in Iowa has adopted a policy for on-campus parties.

It stipulates that the organizers first obtain permission with the Director of Student Activities, distribute wristbands to attendees, keep alcohol confined within the provided space and agree to take responsibility for all damages.

It sounds like a lot of work, but students will take the extra steps if it means a night of paranoia-free keg stands.

More importantly, that administration is sending the student body a message: if they agree to use restraint, the college won't treat them like children. There are no losers in Grinnell's agreement.

Who wins at Emerson? Not the students, getting in trouble for doing what many students will always do.

And certainly not the administration, wasting time and ink catching and writing up tipsy freshmen.

It would be nearly impossible to find an Emersonian who supports the kind of drug war policies that led to one half of Cheech and Chong being imprisoned. So why is that approach being taken at Emerson in regards to alcohol?

It's time for an alcohol policy that reflects the inventive and cutting-edge nature of our school. Right now, it doesn't even reflect reality.