Campus policies address opposing needs

Halloween has passed quickly, and the leaves are falling fast. The beautiful yellow-and orange-adorned trees will soon be barren as Linfield falls into the sleepy darkness of winter. Students are gearing up for the holidays while frantically trying to ascend the mountain of continually growing coursework with schedules all but abandoned.
And so, it’s easy to see why people go out and party during the weekend. This is a stressful time, see? Really stressful. Enough to make one want to go out and let loose, letting the moment override any looming concerns in one’s life. Enough to break several laws regarding alcohol possession and consumption, as many students often do.
Which isn’t a problem, really. Underage drinking is a cultural phenomenon that’s highly relevant to the college scene. Sure, it’s illegal, and we have Linfield policies against it, but that’s not a big deal to most people.
Something as significant as underage drinking won’t be done in by a few lines citing it as a violation. The problem is how Linfield views underage drinking. Being on campus can get your hand slapped quickly. RAs are trained to respond and write up any offenders they find on campus with no leeway involved.
It’s almost robotic how consistent the process of alcohol violations on campus tends to be.
Off campus? Consistency goes straight out the window. Beyond a standard police bust, there are no rules for any student involved.
What does that mean? It means students flock off campus on weekends, while administrators avert their minds from all the parties and mischief, attending to the few (very stupid) students who prefer to drink and drug it between 9:45 p.m. and midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
This isn’t really big news, per se. But when I really thought about it, questions started to form in my head. Why? Why would organizations like Residence Life and Campus Safety be focused only on students’ safety when they’re on campus? Is that not the point of these organizations?
It certainly isn’t safer for the students to need to walk under the influence four blocks away to go to party at a house filled with people they don’t know or trust.
And yet these organizations do nothing to combat these dangers. If it isn’t on campus, it clearly isn’t a problem. Why? Because these organizations are not, at their heart, designed around safety. They’re designed as part of a business, Linfield College, where public relations is the most important part of the equation. Money drives the programs and designs the rules.
I think, as individuals, it would be wise to allow ourselves to occasionally ask why a system comes out so flawed. We often look at the workers and individuals implanting a rule and believe them when they say that they have the best of intentions. And perhaps they do. But the job they’ve been put into has the best intentions of an entity far greater than you. That’s not good news for students.
Neither a strict approach (like the one on campus) nor an apathetic approach (like the off-campus perspective) have the best needs of the students in mind. We need consistency. Having RAs standing over our shoulder half the time and be wholly ignored by the rest doesn’t inspire safety.
We have a double standard here. At some point, the administrators should decide whether they’re really in it for safety reasons or if the school comes first. At that point, students might begin to see a college focused on their needs and not those of an economic giant.

Matt Olson/Columnist

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