A Tech-Econ Mashup with a Libertarian Flavor

More on the MSU Off-Campus Alcohol Policy

An economic analysis of the new policy, courtesy of the Economics Club, co-authored by myself, published in the MSU Reporter. The gist:

University leadership is in the unenviable position of trying to balance the students’ interests (if you can consider drinking an “interest”) with those of the community. However, administration showed a blatant disregard for student opinion by ignoring the student senate’s dissenting opinion and pushing through such a sweeping measure so quickly.

If the goal of the university is to achieve a high level of compliance to these new rules, then administrators should reconsider this heavy-handed approach. The ability of the new penalties to alter student behavior at the time of consumption remains dubious. The impact that the fines and classes will have on students’ behavior after the fact is also questionable.

Finally, the university must realize that it’s fighting an uphill battle against a deeply ingrained cultural norm that pairs the college experience with alcohol use

Read the whole thing. Pretty please?


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Apparently, the local paper published my letter-to-the-editor today (I thought they were supposed to contact you to verify your address before they print these things?). The background is that my university has a new policy this year that punishes students for alcohol-related offenses that occur off-campus. As would be expected, what passes for a local newspaper wrote an editorial commending university leadership for their excellent parenting. /sarcasm.

Here’s my take on the matter:

The Sept. 8 editorial praising Minnesota State University’s underage drinking policy (“MSU Correct on Alcohol Policy”) patronizes the MSU student community.

Of course, students ought to be expected to follow a reasonable code of conduct, both on-campus and when acting as representatives at university-sanctioned, off-campus events. However, the editorial missed the bigger issue at stake: It is the duty of local law enforcement officials, not school administrators, to police students’ activities off-campus.

MSU’s punishments for alcohol-related offenses (which include fines and mandatory “educational” films) are an assault on the autonomy of these young adults and have a questionable deterrent effect at best. Charging students for alcohol-related offenses through the legal system is the proper way to handle run-ins with the law; further castigating them through academic disciplinary action oversteps the school’s authority and should not be tolerated.

Perhaps if MSU’s administrators are serious about curbing underage drinking, they ought to begin by treating adults (even ones who behave like children) as adults and let them be accountable to the law for their actions.

A more thorough analysis of MSU’s alcohol-related-misconduct policy (courtesy of yours truly and the MS U Econ Club) will appear in the campus Reporter next Tuesday. I’ll blog it here.

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