Editorial: MSU students just don’t get it

Published 8:37 am Monday, September 15, 2008

Last year we prodded Minnesota State University-Mankato officials to do more to address the problems of underage drinking and other drinking-related problems among their students.

With a new set of guidelines for students and a renewed focus on the issue, the university deserves praise for its actions.

Under the new alcohol-related sanctions, a first offense by a student results in academic probation, an alcohol and drug assessment, a mandatory two-hour alcohol education class and a $50 fee to cover costs. A second offense results in a four-hour class and a $100 fee. A third violation could result in being evicted from the dorms if the student lives on campus and a suspension or expulsion from school.

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The sanctions are modeled in part after those used by Minnesota State University-Moorhead, which has been a vocal leader in trying to address drinking issues with its students.

Unfortunately, the MSU Student Association unanimously opposed the sanctions. Their vote is, however, symbolic. The student group has no authority over university policies.

Still, it would have been refreshing to have the association support these reasonable measures.

The main arguments against the sanctions — that they don’t treat non-MSU students the same and that students are adults who shouldn’t be “parented” by MSU — are both off base.

The sanctions are simply part of a contract that students and the university have with each other.

Simply because the university can’t hold sway over non-students is not reason to do nothing.

The changes are being made for good reason. The drunken homecoming riot of 2003, several alcohol-related deaths of young people and reports by police that they are finding more young people with extremely high alcohol levels required action.

Being host to several thousand young people, MSU has a special obligation to help address the issue, along with the rest of the community and parents.

The university has taken an important step, one that everyone — including students — should welcome.

— The Free Press of Mankato, Sept. 9