While St. John’s is not strictly a dry campus-graduate students are permitted to have alcohol in their rooms-the fact remains that most residents, regardless of age, are not allowed to possess any alcoholic beverages.
The noble goals of this ban are keeping students secure, safe, and well-behaved, and while the University’s intentions are laudable, the prohibition fails to deliver on all three counts.
Firstly, there is little security in a residence hall where resident assistants are allowed to enter and search any room on the most tenuous of suspicions. True security depends on privacy, and both are sacrificed for the sake of enforcing the alcohol policy.
Safety is an even greater loss. As the threat of search and seizure hangs constantly over the heads of residents, drinking a bottle of wine or a six-pack of beer over the course of a week presents too great a risk of being caught red-handed.
The student response at St. John’s and at universities across the country is to minimize that risk by consuming contraband as quickly as possible. The fact that binge drinking, a dangerous and sometimes deadly practice, is common among undergraduates in the United States should come as no surprise. It is a direct result of policies identical to those of St. John’s.
In the final aim of maintaining order, the alcohol policy is at best redundant. A rowdy, violent student can be prosecuted regardless of whether or not he had a beer in his hand. Any disturbances that might be blamed on alcohol are already against the university’s codes, rendering the further sacrifice of freedom through the alcohol policy pointless.
In truth, the alcohol policy of St John’s and the alcohol laws of most states do little to achieve their professed goals and serve only to foster resentment among those needlessly restricted.
That is a poor state of affairs for a country that boasts of its freedom and from a university that once boasted a bar in the UC.