Stevenson’s article effectively addressed drinking problems

To the editor:

I was disappointed to see such a negative response printed to John Stevenson’s article in the last issue of The Bucknellian. The letter goes to great lengths to minimize the significance of facts and exonerate those involved from blame. For all its equivocation, however, someone is obviously responsible for the drinking problem on campus. John simply recognized the dire situation on campus and held all University students accountable for their actions. For this he should be commended, not condemned.

No matter the underlying demographics, a 300% increase in drinking-related hospitalizations is alarming. So long as the statistic is controlled for students only, it is serious. That an administrator claimed 35% of the hospitalizations were Greek bears no weight because Greeks are not the only students to attend registered events. In fact, Greeks regularly invite non-Greek students to their events. The issue is not “how many Greeks are abusing alcohol,” but “how many students are abusing alcohol, and why?” John correctly identified pervasive drinking among Greek organizations as a causal factor. Sadly, contemporary college culture glorifies alcohol abuse. In my time at the University, I cannot recall a single fraternity or sorority which was ever ostracized due to drinking excesses. Students should understand the dangers alcohol abuse poses and set some standards. If students truly avoided Greek organizations known for fomenting drinking, alcohol abuse would naturally fade over time and self-policing would be viable. Students, however, are not angels; hence the need for authority.

Public Safety and the administration should reacquaint themselves with the age-old concept of deterrence. A more aggressive policy of enforcing not only the University’s regulations, but also state law, would deter students from drinking, for fear of retribution. As inebriated students stumble home–whether from Bull Run, a Wednesday-night frat party or a dorm binge–Public Safety can and should intercept the visibly intoxicated. The administration can oblige by punishing students accordingly instead of coddling them, and toughening its drinking-point punishment system. For those students who live off-campus, Public Safety can coordinate operations with local law enforcement, informing them that students are prone to alcohol abuse–thus a high risk to themselves and others–and should be vigilantly policed during drinking hours. Making an example of these students will send a message to the rest that drinking infractions will not be tolerated. Such methods may seem draconian, but students have left Public Safety with little recourse.

As a fellow Brother of Mr. Stevenson, I can say with the utmost certainty that he harbors no ill will towards the Greek system. Rather, he simply stands for the virtues it has traditionally upheld rather than the den of iniquity into which it has recently degenerated. What Greek life is and what it should be are worlds apart. How the University answers this question will make a life-or-death difference on campus.

James Rutledge Roesch

Class of 2010

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