January 7, 2008

public survey

please weigh in with your own opinions. (and forgive me, this isn't going to be super organized or entirely structurally sound). it isn't often that i feel the need to voice my opinion about something, particularly something political, but i certainly have a strong opinion here.

i was reading in the star tribune today that MNSCU (Minnesota State Colleges and Universities) want to impose a rule that any MNSCU student that receives a minor consumption ticket while in college will have notification sent to their parents. this rule would apply to all students (even those over 18, which most college students are). the argument stated in the trib claimed that the more people involved, the more likely the student will receive the help he/she needs. the article is in response to the numerous alcohol-related deaths of college students in 2007. although these deaths are great tragedies, i do not this this plan is the most effective way to address the situation.

the dictionary defines legal age as: the age at which a person takes on the rights and responsibilities of an adult. in the state of minnesota, the legal age is 18. at this age a person is able to partake in binding contracts without the consent of another adult.

all that being said, i completely disagree with MNSCU trying to invoke a rule that any minor consumption will result in parent notification. i have many arguments against this.
1) the legal aged students are considered legal and independent in all aspects, except minor consumptions.
2) many colleges require students to attend a chemical dependency class(es) if they receive a minor. (this seems more logical and effective to me than notifying parents)
3) notifying the parents takes at least some responsibility off of the student. in many instances, parents will step-in and take over, not allowing the student to learn and respond of their own accord.
4) not all, but most college students are in control of their drinking habits. and even if they receive a minor consumption, that does not indicate they have a chemical dependency problem.
5) the more rules and regulations that surround a "forbidden" thing, the more creative people will get to still do those things. European countries tend to have significantly less drinking trouble than the US, due in part to the less stringent rules.
6) going away to college is not just about an education, its also about growing up, becoming independent and making choice for yourself. and with making choices for yourself comes responsibility for those choices. young adults should be allowed to make those choices and accept the responsibilities for those choices.
7) where does the line get drawn in terms of what should be reported to parents? if alcohol consumption is reported to parents, wont people start arguing that grades should be reported? maybe drop-out rates will decline if parents are aware their child is getting all D's and C's??? what becomes off-limits?
*in the interest of time, and my blood pressure, i'll stop with 7 points, although i do have further arguments.

for many, drinking in college is a right-of-passage kind of thing. proof that we are old enough to make our own decisions. it's also a bit of rebellion that we are on our own, not living under our parents roofs & rules any more. underage drinking is very abundant on college campuses, but for a vast majority of students it is not as big of a problem as the media make it out to be. i think there are many other avenues we could persue to help the students who do have drinking problems. one idea would be that all minors (not just students) caught for under age consumption must attend chemical dependency classes (like 10 classes, to make it an inconvenience for them, so they think twice about their decision and responsibilities about alcohol). more importantly, i think college and universities should have safe-guards in place to help students who have been drinking. safe walk programs where students don't get in trouble for being escorted home while intoxicated. cab company information, and perhaps special rates for students. perhaps, alcohol education might need to be re-vamped and strengthened. teaching important life-lessons like alcohols affects on our bodies are easily lost on young students, who don't feel the information is relevant to them. many young people see themselves as invinicible to life's harms, including the effects of alcohol. if we can give young adults the understanding of these effects, perhaps they will have the tools to make good decisions for themselves. that is the point - that students and young adults are treated as adults, capable of making their own decisions and dealing with the consequences of those decisions. not their parents.

what do you think?


MizStizzle said...

...pretty sure you should submit this to the Star Trib...I think it would definitly make the editorial section! You go girl!

Jane Johnson said...

I completely agree...and they actually do send grades to parents. I remember when my parents got my brother's grades in the mail from college and I was outraged.