In the blotter should mean out of school


I quite liked one sentence in the DI’s recent editorial (Feb. 10) on drinking among UI students: “The [UI] community has a robust alcohol-focused nightlife because many of its members enjoy drinking, not the other way around.” That’s exactly right: Drinkers make bars, bars don’t make drinkers. If the university is concerned about excessive drinking, it should focus on the drinkers who are responsible — not landlords, not bar owners, not liquor-store clerks. In fact, that’s what the administration is doing by hiring a consultant to study student drinking. The DI editors think this initiative won’t work. They may be right. Apparently, many UI students really, really like to get drunk and behave badly. “That,” the DI editors say, “is not going to change.”

True enough. But that doesn’t mean we, the university community, have to put up with it. If we are serious about pursuing the university’s mission, there is no reason we should. Attendance at a place such as UI is a rare privilege. Most people — here and around the world — never get the chance to attend a top-notch university. When any privilege is extended, it entails obligations. If those obligations are not met, then the privilege is revoked. In our case, that obligation is to be responsible members of the university and good citizens of the city hosting it. We all must act in a way consistent with the university’s goals, not interfere with the university’s work, and not break the city’s laws. University members who drink to excess and behave badly meet none of these obligations and should, therefore, have their privileges revoked. That means they should be asked to leave the university until they can demonstrate that they can meet those obligations like responsible adults.

So here is a simple proposal: If a student, in the exercise of her or his right to drink to excess, is found in violation of the UI’s code of conduct or any relevant law, he or she will be required to withdraw from the university for one semester on the first infraction, for two semesters on the second, and permanently on the third. During the time he or she is away, the student will be required to leave Iowa City (if possible), maintain a clean record, and work a steady job. When and if the student applies for readmission, a university board will check to see if he or she has met these requirements. If not, he or she will not be readmitted.

The DI editors tell us that some UI students over 21 want to get drunk. That’s correct. They tell us that getting drunk is their right. That’s correct, too. But even they would agree that drunk students have no right to disrupt the university’s business or that of the local community. Insofar as they do, they should be asked to leave.

Marshall Poe

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