DS View: Alcohol

UND’s new policy of reporting campus housing residents caught with alcohol to police harms student life.

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Recently, UND changed its policy on how alcohol is handled in the residence halls. In the past, resident assistants would deal with students in possession of alcohol. Now, RAs are required to call the police to handle the situation.

While we understand RAs and UPD officers must do as directed by policy, we, The Dakota Student editorial board, do not support the decision.

Although the idea of UND being a “dry campus” is a bit contested, it makes sense that a dry campus would enforce a no-alcohol policy in some fashion. However, requiring police intervention is an extreme approach that will have more negative impacts than positive.

In the past, a student caught with alcohol would be written up and required to take a substance abuse class through the Counseling Center. The class encouraged students to take a critical look at alcohol in society and their own decisions regarding alcohol. Students also were given an opportunity to have one-on-one time with a counselor if they wanted.

While these classes are still a form of disciplinary action, they shift the focus from punishment to rehabilitation. Most students who drink are not vagabonds in need of heavy punishment, but rather young adults who could benefit from looking at their alcohol use from a different point of view.

Although these classes will still be required for students in violation of the alcohol policy, many more students will find themselves being thrown unprepared into a sloppy criminal justice system. Punishments for a minor in consumption/possession of alcohol can include hundreds of dollars in fines, probation, community service and even jail time.

Let’s face it: In college, most students will drink in varying degrees. However, not everyone gets caught. For example, two students — one who has only drunk alcohol a few times in his or her life and one who drinks to an extreme extent — are both caught beer in hand at a party. The law will treat them the same, though they clearly have different situations that would benefit most from personalized treatment.

It would be more helpful to evaluate and treat individuals based on their specific needs rather than throwing them into the court system that will administer a blanket punishment.

The court system is unnecessary when dealing with the majority of underage drinking cases on campus.

Throwing young adults into the legal system will create substantial stress for them; though they were caught breaking a rule, we should use instances like these as chances to help create a better, healthier person instead of creating more problems for people.

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