Our view: Getting a buzz without the fuzz

DKS Editors

People hosting off-campus house parties in Kent might want to prepare for an influx of partygoers at their next bash, courtesy of a new Residence Services policy aimed at curbing underage drinking on campus.

Beginning this semester, Residence Services will involve the Kent State Police for underage drinking incidents in the residence halls. Previously, underage drinking violations had been handled in-house with a letter sent home to the student’s parents or guardians.

In a letter sent to all residence hall students, Betsy Joseph, director of Residence Services, explains the change in policy as one partially in response to a “significant increase in the number of alcohol-related incidents in the residence halls during this past fall.”

Essentially, Residence Services associates more alcohol incidents to more noise violations, resulting in negative student success.

We understand that part of the equation. But what Residence Services failed to recognize in implementing this new policy is a simple fact: College students will continue to drink underage. They’ll just find a new place to do it.

Considering the 22 percent spike in alcohol violations on campus, we can’t help but wonder if the new policy is simply a knee-jerk reaction designed as a scare tactic for students. After all, the Kent State Police even admitted they don’t have a set plan for how to handle each incident. It could mean legal action – likely in the form of a first-degree misdemeanor – but it might not.

Therein lies problem No. 2. Why tie up the Kent State Police with residence hall problems when they could be ensuring safety across the 916-acre campus? That’s a lot of land to patrol for more serious offenses than a group of freshmen imbibing a few alcoholic beverages in the confines of their own dorm rooms.

Now, students desperate to get their weekend drink fix will be traipsing across campus and into town to avoid the residence halls. We’re not advocating binge-drinking fests, but sometimes the university needs to be more realistic.

Crack down on students who are exceptionally loud and obnoxious, especially during peak study times. But don’t go after students mildly enjoying a few drinks in their residence hall as opposed to guzzling beer at an “Animal House”-like party off campus.

Student success won’t crumble overnight. In fact, the college experience should be about more than simply long caffeine-induced, sleepless nights spent studying costly textbooks. Twenty years from now, no one will remember those dreaded nights anyway. Students will, however, remember that fantastic night in February or that hilarious Halloween celebration.

Alcohol certainly doesn’t need to be part of every student’s college experience, but usually it appears somewhere along the line. In the grand scheme of things, residence halls are generally safe havens at universities. Don’t make students flock to at-risk environments. Keep the police calls to a minimum. Reserve them for only the most egregious incidents and multiple offense residents who can’t take the hint.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.