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Examining discipline

Observer Viewpoint | Thursday, November 17, 2005

“The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Parietal hours are an imperfect substitute for behavior-based regulations, particularly in common areas of dorms – students and RAs know it. It’s no wonder enforcement is inconsistent. Gentleman should be gentleman. Ladies should be ladies. Temptation abounds, but personal responsibility and mature decision-making can and should be taught without irrelevant, though convenient, trip wires, like parietal hours.

Everything that needs to be said about responsible drinking was revealed at our “50 + 12 Conference,” co-sponsored by the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse in 1975 and hosted by Notre Dame’s student government. Drinking behind closed doors is the least likely way to promote responsible behavior.

I still love Notre Dame, but this seems to be getting worse, not better, and I’ll bet student behavior is significantly improved since the mid-70’s – this generation is much more thoughtful about drinking behavior and intimate personal relationships.

If the Office of Residential Life is present to support and educate students when small errors in judgment are made, graduates will make fewer, far more painful mistakes after Notre Dame’s community support is no longer a part of their everyday lives.

Inconsistent and overly zealous enforcement of surrogate regulations will reduce the likelihood that the University’s counseling help will be sought due to fear of the potential, unknowable consequences. That’s not how effective parents do it. Has the concept of “in loco parentis” lost some traction at du Lac?

Ed Byrnealumnusstudent body president, 1976Class of 1976Nov. 16