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Mixed messages

Letter to the Editor | Monday, September 22, 2008

A two-faced administration,the University of Notre Dame, a top undergraduate institution, prides itself in sending its applicants to premier graduate schools and connecting them with employment opportunities at some of the most successful companies in the United States and abroad. The school clearly in these cases expresses care for the future of its students, and genuinely cares about their futures. A recent of example of this was during the Career Fair held last week. The school administration every year goes to great lengths to invite top employers to meet the Notre Dame student body in order for the students to maximize their opportunities.

This interest for student well-being seems to be inconsistent, however, especially in light of the University’s refusal to stand up for its students regarding police alcohol enforcement. Many students every week are arrested and charged with frivolous alcohol charges by the South Bend Police Department, St. Joseph County Police, and State Excise Police. This weekend was no exception: every major bar around South Bend was raided, and nearly forty people were arrested for enjoying a beer at a house party. This same argument here is made countless times in the Observer, and is certainly discussed frequently among most students. Otherwise law-abiding students are arrested for drinking alcoholic beverages underage, and these arrests tarnish the good reputations that these young adults carry as Notre Dame students.

This letter is not about arguing how ridiculous alcohol laws are, nor the school’s allowing of local police to patrol tailgates on-campus. It is about Notre Dame refusing to protect its students and their futures while they are participating in normal collegiate activities. Notre Dame, being one of the most famous institutions in the state of Indiana, is more than able to influence public policy, especially those policies that cause their students to find trouble with the law. The administration can’t be expected to change state alcohol laws or turn down police help at tailgates (it’s not an entirely bad idea to let police patrol where 80,000 people are partying), but it can be expected to act to promote the best interest of its students. Both on and off-campus, SBPD and excise police invade homes and public establishments in order to sniff out every last underage drinker.

These assaults are specifically concentrated on Notre Dame students at bars and house parties. These police actions are not questioned (in fact, are encouraged) by the Notre Dame administration. Looking at this side of the Notre Dame administration does not suggest that it takes a great interest in student well-being. An alarmingly high number of Irish graduates in good academic and disciplinary standing are denied future opportunities because they decided to have a few beers before their 21st birthday, while the school administration takes no action. Drinking is a normal part of college life, and students who participate should not be limited in their future careers by a “criminal” record, especially when it could be prevented by students’ schools.

Notre Dame sends a very mixed message in regards to student welfare. Its collaboration with law enforcement agencies that unfairly harm its own students must be questioned. The local authorities are not so much to blame as Notre Dame, who fails to minimize the unjust police concentration on Notre Dame student activities. The school administration needs to re-evaluate some of its policies, and end its two-faced approach to student recreation, opportunities, and future careers.

Brian Strickland



Sept. 22