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- Festival Review: Austin City Limits
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Dry campus, wet blankets, safer students?
In 2005, University of Texas freshman Phanta “Jack” Phoummarath died of alcohol poisoning after a party at his fraternity house.
In 2007, University of Mississippi freshman Bradley Jameson fell from a tree outside a fraternity house he was visiting and died after striking his head on a concrete patio. He had been drinking that night.
In 2013, University of North Texas junior Dustin Starks fell from a fraternity house’s stairwell while intoxicated. He remains hospitalized in serious condition.
What do these events have in common? All three are cases of underage drinking gone wrong at fraternity houses on college campuses.
But a difference is found in how the administration of each university chose to respond to these regrettable incidents.
The University of Texas canceled the charter of Phoummarath’s fraternity for six years, and the University of Mississippi placed the offending fraternity in Jameson’s death on probation for a year while requiring its members to perform community service.
Meanwhile, the University of North Texas has chosen to enact a so-called “blanket ban” on alcohol at all greek life events on and off campus, whether or not the participants are of legal age. What’s wrong with this picture?
Rather than singling out the specific organizations that are willfully violating existing rules, or even admitting that these rules were poorly enforced, the administration of this university has chosen to drive a wedge between themselves and the greek establishment.
This ban will not suddenly create an environment of safety and respect for alcohol on this campus that wasn’t there before, nor will it miraculously raise Mr. Starks from his hospital bed.
What it will create is an atmosphere of animosity and bitterness towards authority among both greeks and unaffiliated students alike.
How can any student on this campus respect leaders who don’t trust them to safely drink alcohol at a greek event, even when they reach the legal age to do so?
It’s important to remember that college fraternities and sororities do not have a monopoly on binge drinking, or even drinking in general.
By pushing alcohol underground with this new policy, the university is effectively removing the framework of regulation and oversight that previously motivated greek life members to follow the rules.
The organizations that have strictly followed UNT policy regarding alcohol in the past are being considered no differently in the eyes of the university than the groups that willfully violated them at every turn.
Instead of pursuing sensible regulations, like punishing violators on a case-by-case basis and allowing rule-abiding fraternities and sororities to build a relationship of trust and goodwill with the administration, university policymakers are taking us all back to kindergarten.
Alcohol abuse on college campuses is a serious problem, and should have no place in the traditions of higher education.
The organizations who promote this aspect of greek culture should be held personally responsible for incidents like these, and severe or repeat offenders should be removed from this campus. There is no question.
But regardless of your opinion on fraternities, sororities or alcohol in general, being treated like a child should make you angry, and it should make you question whether this university has your best interests in mind.
Today we’re raising our glasses for Mr. Starks’ speedy recovery, but we’re also proposing a toast to the freedoms of adulthood that have no business being restricted.