Alcohol policy woes

1990s: Kegs are not permitted on campus unless authorized and monitored by the University.

1999: Co-sponsored fraternity/sorority alcohol-related events in frat houses are eliminated.

1999-today: Selective and greek organizations lose their campus housing.

In the past four years, campus social life has been stifled by addendums to the University alcohol policy. These actions have raised complaints within the student body as we have been forced off campus for many social events. While some of our woes may seem trivial to the administration, students have serious concerns about the intentions of the University. Yes, students are angry that fraternities are being eliminated one by one like pawns in a game of chess. Yes, we long for the days when we had the Hideaway. However, a more contentious issue lies at the heart of student angst. As the alcohol policy becomes more stringent, the administration's desire to clear itself of liability supersedes its duty to protect student lives.

While pushing events off campus is sold to us as a painless change, it comes with severe consequences for the student body. Instead of creating policies with our best interests in mind, the administration has instituted protocol that instead protects the University's reputation. These are just some of the negative effects we can expect with the alcohol policy in place:

Drunk driving. With events pushed off campus, students no longer have the luxury of buses to take them to parties. The administration's answer for off campus events? The Duke-Durham weekend bus service that only travels to selective venues and is an impractical and inconvenient means of transportation.

The University also provides no way to get to events at off-campus houses. The lack of efficient transportation means some students will be stupid enough to get behind the wheel while under the influence, putting themselves, their passengers and the lives of other motorists in danger.

Crime. Increasing activities off campus puts students in an unsafe atmosphere, as they will opt to walk through Durham at night. Students will be leaving parties drunk and ambling through poorly lit streets trying to find their way back to campus. This leaves the door open for muggings, sexual assaults and other crimes.

Binge drinking. If administrators think binge drinking is a huge problem now, they should consider converting the Healthy Devil into an AA office. While fewer events and less access to alcohol on campus appear to be good things-especially with regards to underage drinking-it actually only aggravates the problem. Though students may be drinking less often, they will not be cutting down the quantities they imbibe. Once students get their hands on alcohol they will abuse it, drinking more to make up for what they could not obtain previously.

Neglected medical problems. More off campus events means more students will not receive the medical attention they need. There will be no student-run EMT service to take intoxicated students to the emergency room. There is no longer the convenience of a hospital within walking distance from parties. Fear of legal trouble and having their party broken up will keep residents of off- campus houses from calling for help. Students that require medical assistance will not receive it, which could lead to more cases of alcohol poisoning and alcohol-related deaths.

Hard as administrators may try to work it in their favor, the alcohol policy hurts all those involved. Pushing events off campus may seem to solve the problem of liability, but when student lives are endangered, it will not matter whether we are within or outside the campus walls. The ramifications will no doubt bring negative publicity to the University, hindering goals of improving Duke's image.

The administration has gotten so wrapped up in the politics of the collegiate world that they have lost sight of their priority: the students. It is not acceptable for the administration to ignore the moral consequences of their actions. Administrators, it's time to listen to your conscience and focus on what is important before it is too late. It's time to rethink the alcohol policy for the right reasons-for the sake of the students.

Jennifer Wlach is a Trinity junior and former Health and Science associate editor for The Chronicle. Her column appears every other Friday.


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