October 21, 2010 Volume CXXVIII Issue 6

Student plays devil’s advocate

By JONATHAN BALMER
Staff Writer

Before play practice, a few Maskrafters were discussing a couple of opinion articles in The Georgetonian. My first opinion article was sandwiched in-between Perry Dixon and Molly Shoulta’s opposing views that week. My article was not the topic of conversation. Perhaps I was the bologna in the sandwich (my ego says I was the steak), but I digress.

“You just don’t mess with Perry,” one girl remarked. But later, in last week’s Georgetonian, there was a letter from the editor asking students to follow the example of Perry and Molly in voicing their opinions. So here I am, not to “mess” with anyone, but to explain why I disagree with the rationale used in Mr. Dixon’s proposal of a wet tailgate. Let me say, I have absolutely nothing against those who drink responsibly. Please, let me play devil’s advocate.

I will address a few main points from last week’s Back Page. The first is the idea that comparisons to the University of Kentucky are unfit for our private college; we should be compared to colleges like Harvard, Yale or Centre. Secondly, is that “Georgetown’s alcohol policy is rooted in an out of date ideology that upholds that it is immoral for anyone, regardless of age, to consume a drop of alcohol at any given time.” Finally is the claim “[t]he college could make some money, for once” if a wettailgate were allowed.

The first is a question of identity. We are a private Christian college, but that could mean a variety of things. Yale and Harvard were established in a religious tradition, but today they are very secular. The opinions of what policies a Christian school should have are numerous. If we compare our college to private, liberal arts schools, even with differing standards of student behavior, we see that our alcohol policy is not outlandish.

Otterbein University, a small liberal arts college outside of Columbus, Ohio, is a dry campus. They have a campus-supported “condom club” and an active gay-straight alliance. Their academics are comparable to Georgetown’s and their student government has a great deal of power. Their judiciary committee is comprised of four students and three faculty members and the Otterbein Board of Trustees contains student members. Why, then, would a college with heavy student involvement in university policy and a wide view of acceptable personal behavior remain a dry campus? Perhaps alcohol policy is not always a question of morals.

Conversely, Wheaton College, a liberal arts college in Illinois, has more stringent policies. Tobacco products are not allowed on campus, much less alcohol. The curfew is more restrictive than at Georgetown; quiet hours begin at 9 p.m. and there are regular mandatory chapel services for students. The average ACT score for incoming freshmen is 27 to 31 (compared to Georgetown’s 21 to 26).

Both of these colleges are dry campuses with two differing ideals concerning the extent of personal freedoms that should be granted. Yet both are dry campuses and both have academic standards comparable or higher than Georgetown’s. Perry was right in saying that alcohol policy shows no direct correlation with academic prestige and alcohol policy can be determined separate from left/right politics.

Georgetown’s mission explains the “Believe” part of our slogan “Live. Learn. Believe.” by saying, “In secular institutions, faith is often seen as superfluous and irrelevant to education. At Georgetown College, a student is free to develop belief systems and encouraged to test them against the variety of opinions that exist in this diverse community. The college fosters a student’s faith—and the college also has faith in its students and the ability of those students to believe in themselves.” Our identity is neither a forcefully religious or forcefully secular institution (note: this is not meant to imply that the previously referenced colleges are either “forcefully religious” or “forcefully secular”).

At Georgetown, there are opportunities to develop my faith but never worry that if I ask the “wrong” question faculty will hunt me down and damn me as a heretic. In my opinion, it is a good, but not perfect, balance. Here’s the point: our alcohol policy is not the sole result of our school’s philosophy. Schools public and private, large and small, secular and religious often have dry campuses. So why restrict alcohol if there isn’t necessarily a specific creed as the reason behind it?

Just as there are restrictions for pets and firearms beyond state and federal law on campuses, the alcohol policy is not so much about restricting our rights with outdated ideology as it is about damage control. Consider the following from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism:

-“About 11 percent of college student drinkers report that they have damaged property while under the influence of alcohol.”

-“More than 25 percent of administrators from schools with relatively low drinking levels and over 50 percent from schools with high drinking levels say their campuses have a ‘moderate’ or ‘major’ problem with alcohol- related property damage.”

-“599,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are unintentionally injured under the influence of alcohol.”

The Back Page mentioned money as a reason for a wet tailgate. Damage to property, direct and indirect, could prove more trouble than it’s worth (not to mention lack of self-control’s medical toll). Limiting drinking to off-campus (presumably in restaurants and bars, considering Scott County’s semi-dry status) makes alcohol more difficult for underage students who are most likely to abuse alcohol. This tendency for abuse is why in 2008 the Amethyst Initiative, a group of college Presidents, formed to propose lowering the drinking age.

The Initiative wishes to legislate away the problem of under-age alcohol abuse from their campuses. This will only defer the weight of the problem to a younger group, high-schoolers. Unfortunately, it could have even more drastic consequences. When your friends can legally buy alcohol, you can bet it is easy for you to get. Keeping alcohol in establishments where students will be carded limits underage abuse. Admittedly, the major down-side is a need for a designated driver. It is not 100 percent convenient but it is a justifiable response considering patterns of behavior on college campuses nationwide.

The Back Page rightly points out that “Americans drink beer at football games; it is a part of our culture” but, unfortunately, so is a ridiculous attitude towards alcohol. Alcohol is viewed as a magical ticket to a good time and indulged in excess; or, oppositely, it is seen as an uncontainable demon. Both are unhealthy views. I choose not to drink. I am underage anyway (not that this stops whoever-it-was that vomited in Anderson and missed the trashcan by two inches. I did not enjoy nearly stepping in your beer vomit all weekend). Unfortunately, too many, by their abuse, cause alcohol to be the second greatest revealer of human stupidity. The first is clearly 24/7 cable news.

I still maintain that dry campus policies can be justified outside of moral terms, but let me address the religious moral question briefly. I do not agree with Mr. Dixon’s insistence alcohol can be no more morally offensive than an “ice cream cone.” I am not against drinking; I am against the habit some have of getting, shall I say, “stupid-drunk.”

My point is, the potential for, and reality of, abuse is greater with alcohol and likening it to ice cream is like likening a paintball gun to an AK-47. No one eats 20 Push Pops and passes out at the wheel. People don’t go to Ice-cream-aholics anonymous meetings. At least, such a group is not as common (this is America, after all).

Perhaps a wet tailgate would be an appropriate way to test if the college was really ready to drink responsibly. Still, I still have a few questions. When the party is over, assuming there is leftover beer; do you really think the college is so naïve to believe the leftovers will not be taken to dorm rooms, which are still dry? Who would waste perfectly good beer? A wet tailgate sounds like a compromise, but really makes it even more difficult to discourage those prone to drunken stupors from harming themselves and others on campus.

Should people be able to make responsible decisions? Yes, but drunkards— not those who simply drink but drunkards—often don’t, and their poor decision-making shouldn’t be allowed to alter the quality of our already-deteriorating facilities, much less the lives of other students. When I am convinced becoming a wet campus will not result primarily in an increased prevalence of what is already a problem, I will support a wet campus.

The Back Page, I cannot contest, has accomplished two important goals. First, Perry captured an audience’s attention. Then he caused people to think and talk about what concerned him and, finally, he drew out a response. Congratulations and keep at it! I never saw anyone read a newspaper back to front before I came to Georgetown.

If students really believe this policy heinous enough to warrant civil disobedience, as the Back Page suggested, I hope it is not a half-baked protest that provokes and then is dubiously incredulous when consequences arrive. This is nothing but a “don’t-tase- me-bro” protest—a sad mark of our fickle generation willing to stand up against the slightest inconvenience so long as standing up does not inconvenience us.

But what do I know? I am a freshman.

If Perry is a “Debbie Downer” and a “Bad Egg,” this article has made me the Fogey who rains on everyone’s parade but leaves their tailgate dry. Meet the new least popular guy on campus: yours truly, Tom Marvolo Riddle. Holler to my Death Eaters.

 


 

Songfest ruins October

By JOEL FEDERSPIEL
Features Editor

Songfest, that oh-so-amusing tradition that acts like a black hole for GC students’ time is finished once again and I, for one, am glad to see it go. Now, before I have angry hordes of my fellow students coming after me with pitchforks and fire, let me explain. I went to the dress rehearsal for Songfest last week and I must say that I thought all of the groups did a very good job. Most of the skits showed a great deal of preparation (with the exception of the men) and all of them were entertaining. That being said, the weeks leading up to Songfest were full of complaints by seemingly everyone around me about how they had no time to do anything (including their schoolwork) because of the preparation for their organization’s Songfest skit. This only got worse the week of Homecoming when it seemed like most of the participant’s spare time was spent getting in one last practice instead of getting in a little extra studying—here is where my problem with Songfest lies.

The way the competition is structured, each group gets to practice for no more than seven hours every week and for only five weeks leading up to the competition. However, we all know that there are probably groups that violate this limit—and why not? There is almost no way to enforce the limits since all of the practices take place in areas decided by the individual organization and are not monitored by any type of oversight group. The only way a group could be caught going over their practice limit is if one of its members turned them in—like that’s ever going to happen.

Even if the time limits that are currently in place could be enforced, I believe that it still allows too much time for what is, at best, an amusing distraction from our primary focus here—namely academics. I would propose that, at the very least, Songfest needs to be scaled back so that less time and energy is put into it, thereby allowing students to keep their focus on their schoolwork. I would even go so far as to say Songfest should be completely abolished, because I do not think that there will be any reasonable way to enforce any new limits on the time that can be spent practicing since enforcement now is next-to-impossible.

So, I am looking at those in charge of Songfest and challenging them to come up with a better way to execute this tradition and if they cannot find one, then I would say it is time for Songfest to go the way of the dodos. And if the powers-that-be are not willing to make a change, then I look to the students to say enough is enough and exercise their right to refuse to participate next year. It is time for us to send a message that academics are the primary focus of this school at all times.

Participants in Songfest spend a great deal of time on practicing and preparing their costumes.

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