New alcohol policy will bring change

Previous strategies didn’t work, a new plan just might.

If you mention that UND is a dry campus amongst a group of students from UND, you will most likely get a great deal of guffaws and chuckles.

The idea of UND as a dry campus is quite literally a joke amongst many of its students, and some school officials are trying to change this.

By now, many of you are probably familiar with UND’s updated policy about alcohol in the dorms. Last semester, UND decided that if alcohol is discovered in the dorms, the police should be contacted immediately — rather than RAs handling the situation.

I actually think this is a good idea.

This new policy might help reduce the stereotype that UND doesn’t really care about alcohol. Since previously no serious legal repercussions would occur if a student were caught with alcohol, many students were given the impression that drinking on campus wasn’t that big of a deal. However, now that the police are contacted right away, perhaps some students will think twice before throwing a rager in their dorm room.

The previous policy of only making students take a substance abuse class in response to being caught with alcohol was ineffective because of the large numbers of people getting caught drinking more than once. Judging by my personal experience in the dorms with people who got caught drinking, the class certainly did nothing to slow them down, and didn’t convince them that what they were doing was wrong.

The problem with the substance abuse class is that nobody decides to drink because they think it is good for them. I won’t deny there are some common misconceptions about alcohol that should be addressed, but mere possession of knowledge is clearly not an effective deterrent. This can be demonstrated by the large number of people who know all the information about why alcohol is bad for you, yet still choose to not only partake, but to partake excessively.

There may be some people for whom this class is effective, but I am fairly confident few actually have a change of heart due to this class alone.

There is the somewhat obvious, yet still occasionally overlooked, point that underage drinking is illegal. There has been a great deal of debate over whether the drinking age should be 18 or 21, and I can’t pretend to be wise enough to give you the definitive answer to that question right here and now. I can say this much with certainty: Just because you disagree with a law does not mean you are exempt from the consequences.

I’m not at all saying this to condemn those who chose to drink. It’s not my place to tell them they can’t drink, or shouldn’t drink. I can tell them it’s a bad idea, but they already know that. I’m just pointing out that the stated goal was a dry campus, and the previous method of not involving the cops right away has been ineffective at reaching that goal. Of course, it is too early to tell whether or not this policy will be effective, but in a year’s time we can look back and see if this policy truly is more or less effective than the previous one.

There is another factor to this that we should consider as well. In a previous interview with the Dakota Student, Residence Life and Educator Director Cindy Spencer pointed out that, “What we have found is that anywhere else on campus — like on the street, parking lot or houses in the campus community — alcohol is typically addressed by UPD.”

Even if you think these consequences are unfair, they are already currently applied to all who are caught with alcohol anywhere else on UND campus. This new policy makes things more consistent.

Michael Rauser is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected]