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Sober solutions

Administration should promote alcohol awareness and trust between students and housing staff

Last November, Deans Susan Art and Kim Goff-Crews sent an e-mail alerting the campus to an increase in alcohol-related incidents, including ER visits. While drinking at the College pales in comparison to our peer institutions, the trend remains disconcerting. Art has indicated that stricter disciplinary measures will not be implemented, although they may still be on the table if the upward trend continues. However, by instituting a few common-sense policies, incidents of alcohol abuse can be reduced without the need for stricter disciplinary methods.

Contributing to the number of incidents is that many students matriculate without much experience with social drinking, knowledge of their body’s particular response to alcohol, or an understanding of how to act when a problem arises. Therefore, the College Programming Office should make drinking education a more significant component of the O-Week “Chicago Life” sessions. The “Sex Signals” skit and discussion helps inevitable sexual experimentation occur in a safe way. We should take a similar approach to alcohol education. A program for drinking could provide helpful insights; for example, given the prevalence of alcohol-caffeine mixtures at many parties, it would be useful to know that perception of intoxication is reduced when alcohol is consumed with caffeine, despite the fact that judgment and reaction times remain significantly impaired. Such information would go a long way to assist the decisions students make.

While official University policy proscribes alcohol in residence halls, there is an implicit “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that ensures experimentation—without ensuring that it happens in a safe way. Therefore, more should be done informally to encourage RAs and RHs to make proactive interventions, and to encourage students to have confidence in seeking their help when needed. It is important that RAs establish more comfortable relationships with their residents, having a regular, friendly presence at parties while ensuring a safe social setting for all.

The University is right to refrain from strict citations that would simply drive students to drink off-campus. By providing adequate information of alcohol’s risks and encouraging more confidence in relationships with RAs and RHs, the University would obviate the need for stronger disciplinary measures in the future.

— The Maroon Editorial Board consists of the Editor-in-Chief, Viewpoints Editors, and three Editorial Board members.