The CLC policy on alcohol is one of the things that I like best about EMU. To understand how important the CLC has been to me, it’s necessary to understand that I hate parties. I don’t drink, I hate the music, I hate dancing, and I hate crowds. All of these things make me generally uncomfortable. As a first-year, I was so uncomfortable around all of these activities that I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to make friends.
I knew that there would be people on campus who felt the same way that I did about party life, but the idea of finding friends whose only similarity with me was that they didn’t party felt unattractive. Just as somebody who likes to go out doesn’t want to be defined by that one facet of their lives, I did not want to be defined by what I did not do.
Luckily, I made friends that I had more in common with than what we abstained from. I believe the CLC was a huge part of this. For me, the set of campus rules provided a safe place to meet people in an atmosphere that I was comfortable with. I made friends who liked drinking and dancing and crowds, but I didn’t have to pretend to like these things to connect with them. The CLC created a safe space for me where I could socialize with people and still be myself.
Furthermore, I think that the policy on alcohol makes perfect sense. The actual restrictions imposed upon students are that they do not do things that are already illegal (drink when underage or supply alcohol to minors), and do not drink while on EMU’s property. To me, these restrictions seem incredibly reasonable and should be easy to follow.
I realize that people have had bad experiences with the CLC and that they think they have been treated unfairly. I know that others think there are issues with the way restorative justice is implemented as part of the disciplinary process.
I don’t want to invalidate these experiences, but my experience with the CLC has been positive. In fact, I believe it has been an essential part of my four positive years at EMU and feel comfortable with myself the whole time. What’s more, I know that I am not the only one who feels this way. I have heard students talk about the alcohol rules like they make no sense, but my experience with these rules has led me to believe the opposite. I like the policy the way it is now. I think that it would be a shame to see them change.
-David Yoder, Co-Editor In Chief
Our alcohol policy conflicts me. I have seen the “dark sides” of alcohol: family and friends consumed by dependency and night after night of belligerence or stupidity. I saw these depths well before coming to college, which instilled in me a much more aware and self-preserving approach to alcohol use than many students who enter EMU with no exposure to substances other than fearful prohibition. Where some first-years see a forbidden fruit, I see a feral animal that, if handled cautiously, can be extremely fun to play with.
Hence my conflict about the alcohol policy. I would be put off by a dorm like many at West Virginia University, which I considered attending, where I might have to climb over passed out, puke-covered hallmates in an attempt to reach my room. However, I am well aware of my own limits, know how to take care of myself and others, and have had a gamut of good experiences drinking responsibly with friends. I don’t want those experiences to be demonized. Thus, I think that the policy is overly stringent against those who drink legally and responsibly, even on campus.
I recognize that some students cannot handle alcohol. I also recognize that having a prohibitive policy in place does not effectively deter dangerous behavior. Students are drinking, students are becoming intoxicated, and students are hurting themselves and others by drinking, in part because of a nominally abstinent campus’s refusal to discuss the realities of alcohol use. Silence and abstinence do not achieve what they strive for. But is there an alternative to silence and abstinence, without resorting to the puke-covered hallmate? One thing I can support is, like Amanda Chandler has suggested in this issue, that discipline should target destructive behavior, and not possession or controlled cases of hosting.
How is an institution to respond to the infinite manners of alcohol use with the nuance that constructive responses require? How, also, can we promote an environment in which not drinking is equally as acceptable as drinking? I posit that, to begin doing so, there should not be a policy that pun- ishes those who drink responsibly, and remove the paradox of punishment for victimless crimes. We should have reasonable restrictions on alcohol use, encouragement towards those who abstain from alcohol, and the cognizance to openly discuss health with those who violate restrictions.
-Randi B. Hagi, Co-Editor In Chief