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Students, not University, responsible for actions

I second Josh Roses' question as to whether The Chronicle's columnists (if not the whole undergraduate population) are out of touch with reality. In her column, "Alcohol Policy Woes," Jennifer Wlach seems to be completely serious in her belief that it is the Duke administration's responsibility to provide under age Duke students with a safe environment in which to consume alcohol illegally and irresponsibly. I would find this laughable, except that the implications and consequences of this belief are so serious.

Wlach is likely correct that Duke's revisions to the alcohol policy have resulted in a campus exodus of parties where the primary goal is to get drunk. She may also be correct that this will increase drunk driving, crime, binge drinking and health problems for the students attending these parties.

However, she incorrectly asserts that protecting students from the dangers of this campus exodus is the University's responsibility. In fact, it is solely the responsibility of the individuals who choose to use alcohol. Such students can either do so legally and responsibly, or they can do so illegally and irresponsibly, understanding the consequences.

The University, providing ample academic information to the student, has no control over what choices a student makes in the pursuit of a major, degree or career.

Similarly, the University provides information to all students about the dangers and legal ramifications of abusing alcohol and other drugs. The University does this because it cares about its students, recognizes the dangers of alcohol misuse and desires to (some might say has a responsibility to) inform its students about these matters. It is completely up to each student to pay attention to this information and apply it to their own life. It may be that Duke provides this information because they are concerned about liability issues or that Duke's alcohol policy is shaped by liability issues. That does not change the fact that it is the students' choice whether and how to drink alcohol. This is true whether the students are on Duke property or out in the real world.

I don't know how the administration politely deals with the incessant whining by Duke undergraduates concerning their difficulties obtaining alcohol. I'm sure many administrators would love to tell you to just grow up. Since they can't, I will. Take responsibility for your own actions and grow up!

Laura Lewis-Tuffin

Graduate School '02


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