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Improving relations, one can at a time

Letter to the Editor | Monday, April 24, 2006

I’ve always been one to defend the police whenever peers complain about “the man getting them down” when what that really means is “the police doing their job.” However, after seeing the NDSP do everything in their power to prevent the MCAT examinees from celebrating the completion of an eight-hour test that requires an entire semester (if not more) of preparation, I felt compelled to write a letter.

Yes, I’m sure that champagne showers on the quad are against du Lac, illegal, etc. Same goes for beer. I’m sure that in terms of the applicable rules, the students’ actions were blatantly wrong. I also acknowledge the fact that NDSP’s role is not to improve relationships between the students and authority. However, with all the disclaimers in place, I present my point:

The presence of NDSP officers outside of Debartolo Hall on Saturday, April 22, did little to improve… well… just about anything. If the goal of the officers was to prevent students from consuming alcohol then I assure you, they failed. Maybe they stopped people from drinking on the quad, but I’m fairly certain that the kids that planned on celebrating ended up doing it at a different time and place. If their goal was to maintain the pristine image of Notre Dame in front of the campus visitors that came for the Blue & Gold Game, I assure you, they failed. However, I’m not sure how impressed the visitors were with the random bag searches (including kids just coming out of the MCATs, as if they brought drinks with them to the test), the bickering between students and the officers (including calling students “idiotic,” an effective means of conveying an opposing viewpoint, to be sure), the theft of a student’s camera, and the blatant lack of respect (on both sides). Truly, this did little to illustrate Notre Dame at its finest.

So what did the presence of NDSP achieve? Increased animosity between students and police officers, some citations, possibly a good amount of recycling and general discontent. I will acknowledge that safety is a valid concern, and that the job of the police is to protect and serve, but I truly believe that, with the number of officers present, it would have been sufficient to let the students celebrate and only step in when something blatantly dangerous was happening. Had this been the case, I wouldn’t be writing this letter, because I realize that safety is important and should be given priority. However, I would classify the amount of NDSP involvement as “preventing as much jubilation as humanly possible” instead of “reacting to danger.” I am truly disappointed that post-MCAT celebration turned out the way it did. The examinees deserved the celebration, everyone deserved more respect, and supportive friends deserved acknowledgement as supportive friends, instead of being treated like unsavory youths.

Maybe next year the students should adopt a “For every bottle of champagne you dump, I’m going to drink three” policy. Or maybe the administration will remember that they, too, were fun-loving college kids at one point… but let’s go with the former next year, just to be safe.

Vince ThomasjuniorSiegfried HallApril 24