Th[dr]inking Outside the Box

By The Beacon | April 13, 2011 9:00pm

(The Beacon)

By Catherine Pickett, Guest Commentary --

The possible consequences of the proposed changes to UP dances need to be better thought out.

Firstly, a sharp decrease in attendance, either out of spite for the new rule or out of the inconvenience of having to take the bus. If they're really looking for a drinking deterrent, UP could do what my high school did: People show up to the dance through whatever transportation and have to reach into a box filled with white and blue poker chips. If someone draws a blue poker chip, he or she is breathalyzed.

This is a much more efficient use of time and resources than the tedious process of breathalyzing every single person and trying to securely funnel everyone from bus to dance doors.

Trying to completely do away with any possibility of alcohol use increases the odds for different substance use like marijuana, ecstasy, or cocaine. Below are some possible excerpts from articles reporting on future dances. Guess which substance was most popular based on the selected quotes!

- "People definitely had a lot of energy, they just wanted to dance all night!" Public Safety had to break up several fights and six students sought medical attention for nosebleeds.

- One student commented on the "strangely touchy" and "sensual" dancing of some. Public Safety is investigating five separate cases of sexual harassment.

- "It was pretty mellow ... People weren't dancing that much, but there were a lot of laughs. Unfortunately, the buffet table was out of food only an hour into the dance!" Luckily, there was no misconduct to report.

"Good clean fun" appeals mostly to parents, not to college students. Legality aside, I don't think there's a problem with students having a couple of drinks to perk up their weekend.

The problem is with those that don't know their limits or have poor judgment. However, the minority shouldn't rule the majority.

Ultimately, if a student wants to drink or be under an influence, they'll find a way or time to do so. Scare tactics or harsh discipline will only go so far in changing behavior. Therefore, perhaps there should be greater or different efforts to influence the intrinsic motivation of students, something more than the optional alcohol speaker.

As an organizational communication major, I can think of a variety of marketing efforts to help do so, and I bet many students could offer CPB ideas as well. UP needs to work with students and not against them.

-Catherine Pickett, senior organizational communications major.