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Accepting consequences

Letters to the Editor | Wednesday, September 24, 2008

In his Letter to the Editor concerning the University’s supposedly inconsistent concern for student well-being (“Mixed messages,” Sep. 23), Brian Strickland suggests the University should convert its present policy of cooperation and encouragement of law enforcement to one wherein the authorities are asked to divert their attention from university students.

I propose that if the University does opt for this course of action, it also ought to station nannies in University restrooms to wipe the wayward infant behind it has taken under its protection.

Strickland’s use of scare quotes in describing “criminal” records for underage drinking causes one wonder whether he is as yet unaware that minor consumption is illegal not only virtually but in a very real sense.

References to institutional pride, top employers, and good academic and disciplinary standing all evoke our assumption that Notre Dame students are some of the best and the brightest, which seems to carry with it the concomitant assumption that they are intelligent enough to know precisely what risks they undertake in violating a well-known statute – especially when given express warning that said statute will be strictly enforced.

Students caught drinking are fully aware of the illegality and consequences of their actions, and should be allowed to reap what they have sown. Rather than side track the discussion by invoking the common occurrence of underage drinking (as if we employ a crude moral calculus in which ubiquity covers a multitude of sins), Strickland ought to face up to the fact that it is not the arrests or university collusion that “tarnish the good reputations that these young adults carry as Notre Dame students” but their own conscious decisions to risk a criminal record for the sake of a buzz.

Could it not be the case that the university is indeed advancing student well-being by allowing these irresponsible individuals to learn that, without mommy and daddy there to clean up their messes, they will be held accountable for their choices?

If. Strickland is not satisfied with this level of involvement, the university could escalate its efforts by requiring a class on why the Catholic tradition does not consider “all my friends are doing it” to be serious moral analysis.

Aaron Sanders

grad student


Sept. 23