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Stevens Points Begins Quixotic Quest to End College Drinking

Is it possible to end drinking on a college campus, any college campus, let alone one in Wisconsin — a state which prides itself on out-drinking all 49 others since 1848?  (Or so the Facebook group and various retailers tell us…)

UW-Stevens Point wants to set up a policy in which all alcohol is banned in the residency halls to keep it out of the hands of students not yet 21.  Frankly, you wonder if they can legally pull this off.

Yes, they may have “renter / tenant” law on their side, but not everyone who lives in the dorms in underage.  This could raise some serious “Don’t they trust me?” issues with those who are of legal age (and can buy beer and put it in their dorm fridges) and who frankly are going ask if they’re suddenly under a presumption of “guilt before innocence” when it comes to a policy like this.

As a senior in college myself, I moved back into the dorms mainly because most of my other friends had graduated the previous spring and I had no one to split a house or apartment with.   Add in that I interned the spring of my junior year back home — when most of the apartments become open for leasing — and my housing situation was kind of limited.

Thompson said the task force is debating making the residence halls dry, meaning no alcohol would be allowed on the premise, even though some residents there are of legal drinking age.

Thompson said the task force also is considering things such as levying fines, hosting additional classes and launching a marketing campaign.

The university also would work more closely with the city, said Mayor Andrew Halverson, who leads the task force with Thompson.

“I know the chancellor is committed to highlighting this as a real growth area for the university and the community,” Halverson said. “I think you’re going to see some real changes.”

Those changes stop short of a specific policy of kicking students out of school for too many offenses. Thompson said right now, the school looks at each student on a case-by-case basis, and he said the university wouldn’t want to set a specific policy for the number of alcohol-related offenses that would mean expulsion.

Making the residence halls dry is great…in theory.  But the reality is stuff gets brought into a dorm all the time that is legal, illegal, or marginally law-abiding.  (It also raises questions about if they’re going this gestapo on alcohol, why don’t they do the same for pot?)   UWSP may be making a problem from the very solution they are advocating.

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