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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