Archive for Friday, November 27, 2009

Rights, responsibility

Perhaps a proposed residence hall policy on drugs and alcohol had flaws, but events of the last year suggest some increased enforcement is justified.

November 27, 2009


Kansas University students have rejected a policy that would have allowed residence hall staff members to enter rooms, after knocking, if they have reason to believe illegal activity is occurring inside.

The plan was aimed at illegal drinking and drug use and was crafted in response to two alcohol-related student deaths during the last year. Last week, the KU Student Senate’s Student Rights Committee unanimously rejected the policy citing privacy concerns.

Today’s KU students certainly are not the first to argue that they are adults and should be free from university restrictions, even if they live in housing that is owned and operated by the university. In the last four decades, KU has largely dropped its parental role by eliminating closing hours, loosening visitation rules and removing other restrictions.

It works pretty well until something bad happens. For some students, it’s simply a matter of getting kicked out of a residence hall. Unfortunately, in the two recent cases, it involved student deaths. When such things happen, parents want answers. Even if they understand their child’s responsibility in an incident, they want to know why the university didn’t do something to stop it.

Fortunately, KU has approved new policies that allow it to communicate with parents when their sons or daughters are caught using drugs or violating alcohol policies. That only works, however, if students are caught. Perhaps the residence hall policy that was under consideration could have been abused by staff members or had other flaws, but the recent events argue that some kind of tougher enforcement policy is in order.

Other policies approved by the students included an educational media campaign and public service announcements — the same type of efforts that students have repeatedly scoffed at as ineffective in curbing illegal drug and alcohol abuse.

It’s possible, but reportedly unlikely, that the KU administration will override the Student Senate group’s rejection of the residence hall policy. If so, the students who see that decision as a victory for student rights also should be willing to share the responsibility for any future injuries or deaths that a new, tougher policy might have prevented.


Richard Heckler 8 years, 5 months ago

Loading up downtown with more and more bar/grills instead of other retail will be sending the wrong message to young people.

Therefore local society should do its' part as well. Romancing alcohol as a sure way to generate tax revenue is sort of setting the wrong example to all of those young people. After all the young people will looking to the college community as a source of wisdom as well as education.

Scolding the student senate for selecting the right to privacy and then filling so many empty spaces downtown with alcohol selling establishments is contradicting. Hey young people don't do it on campus...... do it downtown!

Do it downtown then return to campus to fall off the roof or jump out the windows. Students are vital to this community. Without them the community is nothing certainly not one of the cultural havens of Kansas.

Maybe the community should part of the solution. After all the young people will looking to the college community as a source of wisdom as well as education.

labmonkey 8 years, 5 months ago

Once you give a position power, someone in that position WILL abuse it. RA's do not need that kind of power. Yes, these buildings are owned by KU, but these students still pay rent in the form of housing fees. These rooms are these students' homes and should be treated as such.

And it is a bit hypocritical for previous generations (really, who started the binge drinking and drug culture...the Baby Boomers), who partied just as hard if not harder than the current one to want to impose these rules.

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