In my time at DePauw University, I’ve witnessed countless efforts to encourage safe alcohol consumption on our campus.
I’ve seen research teams assembled to assess the inner workings of the party culture. They’ve created demonstrations like Party House for students that give a peek at the dangers and woes of drinking gone wrong.
So why are students still going to the hospital and being charged by Community Standards? Why are students still being unsafe?
Part of the problem is the taboo surrounding the issue of recreational drugs on our campus. Specifically, the illegality. Because students are fearful of getting caught, they’re running from police, fleeing from authority and those who partake in these activities become rule-breakers in the process.
In the PAUW class (Peers Advocating University Wellness), students, regardless of school status or gender, are placed in a group therapy session to discuss how they ended up under inspection from Community Standards and how they can go about changing their behavior. It’s basically a discussion to encourage not getting in trouble.
When marijuana is introduced in the PAUW class, stereotypes are analyzed and health information is discussed. When the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington and the decriminalization in other states is introduced, however, the conversation changes. Well, in Indiana it’s illegal and at DePauw that law has to be enforced.
But isn’t the underage drinking that DePauw more or less condones (i.e. not requiring fraternities to check IDs to enter parties) also illegal?
DePauw University works diligently to address concerns pertaining to substance abuse and misuse on the campus, but focus almost entirely on alcohol. Meanwhile, programming neglects to acknowledge the complicated underground drug trade the university experiences, and most likely has experienced for years.
Another issue is ignorance of the drug culture on behalf of members of the community. RAs, mentors and every student or professor on campus should be made aware of the dangers of all drugs, not just booze. They should be made aware of safe drug practices, not shown examples of unsafe practices.
DePauw Public Safety needs to change its current efforts regarding the penalization of students who use these substances. Perhaps they should invest in efforts to educate rather than ignoring the subject altogether.
Prevention, not disciplinary action, is the only way to make the students on campus safe. Just as they discourage the use of hard alcohol in fraternities, they should also acknowledge the dangers of the underground drug culture.
I think the university needs to employ new vocabulary surrounding the drug issue on campus. DePauw needs to adopt open communication and educate the community on safe drug, not just safe drinking, practices.
– Dickman is a senior English writing major from Zionsville, Ind.