Excise: invaders or reality check?


DePauw has been targeted by the Intensified College Enforcement (ICE) program, executed by the Indiana State Excise Police. The program hopes to curb underage drinking through the use of more officers in specific regions, mostly college campuses like ours, Ball State University and Indiana University-Bloomington.
It’s not surprising that these officers are at DePauw, an institution that has essentially professed to heavy drinking and problematic consumption of hard alcohol.
The logic of ICE is clear and hard to argue with. If an increased threat of a citation won’t deter underage drinkers – more than 100 citations that have been issued by the program so far – a run in with an excise officer resulting in an actual citation will.
Admittedly, DePauw students live (and drink) in a community that often creates consequences exponentially less severe than legal citations or fines. It seems that students have come to expect to be able to drink with few worries – among people they trust and with consequences few and far between.
Students say the new faces of state law enforcement on campus makes them feel as if our safe bubble has been violated.
This points towards the fundamental differences between Public Safety and excise police. Public Safety is an entity of our community whose professed goal is to keep campus safe. We know the officers. We trust them.
The professed goal of the excise police and their Intensified College Enforcement program is to reduce underage drinking through increased state officer presence on campus, who are quick to issue citations or make arrests.
There is certainly an overlap; administration and student-interest groups have been struggling for years to find ways to decrease an under-age binge drinking culture on campus. Often these suggestion are preempted by surveys, discussions and policies.
Although undesired by students, having excise on campus creates a real possibility of decreasing the severity of the drinking problem by increasing the consequences of drinking underage.
It is unrealistic to believe that excise police will completely eradicate underage drinking at DePauw, or any other college campus for that matter. But it could remind students that high-risk drinking is highly contextual at DePauw, dangerous and unacceptable in less intimate communities.
There are two sides of the coin here. The intimacy of DePauw is broken by excise officers who are unfamiliar with its culture or students. But, the ICE program fosters more real-to-life consequences that could make students think twice before pregaming or drinking underage.