Boise State needs to rethink alcohol

The Boise State alcohol policy makes no argument for why alcohol is totally barred on campus and provides inadequate education on alcohol. Examining Boise State’s on-campus alcohol policy is an aggressive set of rules worded carefully to bar all sorts of alcohol in all circumstances regardless of any mentioned need for such a strong policy.

It even reiterates the university’s housing policy, which makes a point of banning drinking games without even mentioning the use of alcohol. The ordinance is in addition to state law, which in summary is that anyone under the age of 21 may not purchase, distribute or consume alcohol.

Yet the policy takes a very hardline approach while simultaneously the resources available to prevent alcohol abuse among students is inadequate and often waits for students to get into trouble before they receive any sort of education on alcohol.

While there is nothing wrong with Boise State having an alcohol policy, it is the way the policy is in effect that makes no sense. The place this is most evident is at Boise State football games where alcohol is a common drink among fans.

You don’t have to look very hard to know people are drinking at Boise State football games and the consumption at the games is widespread since may fans are of legal
drinking age.

Yet as soon as the game is over and campus returns to its normal day-to-day, alcohol is strictly forbidden once more, even if you are of legal drinking age.

Speaking to ESPN in 2004, Laird Stone, board member with the State Board of Education compared banning alcohol at sporting events to prohibition, which did not work. Could the same be said of alcohol on campus outside of sporting events?

Why is it that during a sporting event on campus it is perfectly acceptable to have beer, but during a normal day it is totally unacceptable for underage students to even be in the presence of alcohol, according to Boise State policy?

If Boise State is not bothered by fans having some booze at games then it is hypocritical to be bothered by them at all other times of the year. The administration cannot legitimately say it is a dry campus when it must put an asterisk next to its major sporting events.

This is particularly bothersome since Boise State alcohol policy does not promote education on the effects of alcohol. It creates an environment in which all alcohol is totally forbidden and the consequences of underage drinking are punished harshly. Instead of educating students about the potentially harmful effects of heavy drinking, the school has simply told students that all alcohol, even for of-age students is banned and that violation of that ban comes with a range of punishment.

It is all reminiscent of the popular television series, South Park where the character of Mr. Mackey, the school counselor, gives the children lessons about drugs in which he simply tells them, “drugs are bad,” with no explanation as to why. In the end the curious children wind up trying drugs.

Luckily for Boise State students, if they get their hands on alcohol and in the case of many underage students who have never had any sort of alcohol, they may get extremely intoxicated. In which case the university’s policy states that students may not face the consequences of breaching the alcohol policy in the event they seek medical attention. This is outlined as the University Medical Emergency Protocol within the alcohol policy.

Will underage students who are just moving out of their parent’s houses be curious about alcohol? Of course they will, and there is no reason they should be kept from information on alcohol and the school’s unlisted dangers of consumption. Why should they only be given assistance in understanding and recovering from alcohol when they have heavily inebriated themselves potentially gaining criminal charges and blemishing what could have been a pleasant first experience with alcohol.

Boise State provides a course called CHOICES offered throughout the semester in which students are educated on the consequences of continued high-risk drinking. The two-hour class is offered to students at a whopping $20 and requires a minimum of ten students but is capped at 35.

Shouldn’t an alcohol prevention course for students be more accessible? Maybe CHOICES should have more classes available, more exposure and not cost $20 to students who are often broke.

Instead of waiting for young students to hit rock bottom in their alcohol experiences, Boise State should reshape its alcohol policy so that alcohol can be a positive experience for students while still being compliant with state law.

There is no reason we should leave students in the dark about booze and then punish them when they make mistakes.

Boise State is not Brigham Young University, we don’t have an honor code that says to abstain from alcohol, coffee and tea outright.

We are a large, vibrant and diverse campus that encourages lifelong learning inside and out of the classroom, and our alcohol policy should reflect that.

About the author  ⁄ Zachary Chastaine

Zachary Chastaine

Zachary studies English technical writing at Boise State and previously wrote for the Portland State Vanguard. An enthusiast of downhill mountain biking, craft beers and automotive racing Zach hopes to continue his writing studies overseas at Oxford Brookes.