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Think safety first

Letter to the Editor | Wednesday, September 13, 2006

This time it is expert-Observer-letter-writer Professor A. Edward Manier who needs to rethink his position (Letter to the Editor 9/11/06). Is he seriously opposed to a “clean, well lit and safe path on which to walk home”? Why?

Underage drinking by college students is at worst a violation, akin to speeding, jaywalking, “rolling stops” or the lately-created offense of smoking too close to a doorway. It is not a violation of the natural law to be dealt with according to Exodus. Like any other violation, underage drinking is common and the prohibition is enforced sporadically for good reason. There are serious crimes to spend resources on and not many Americans want to live in a country where all the laws are enforced all of the way, all of the time.

The physical safety of Notre Dame students, on the other hand, should be a paramount concern for the administration and faculty alike, as they are in loco parentis. The Observer’s position that the underage drinking laws should be enforced strategically, so as not to increase the danger of off-campus situations is eminently reasonable and one that Professor Manier need not address sarcastically. Twenty-five or 30 years ago, a Notre Dame student could go down to the common area of a dorm and pour a beer or three. Does Professor Manier have social science evidence or even an argument from first principles, that demonstrates that Notre Dame is better off with the more aggressive alcohol enforcement of the last few years? If so, perhaps he’ll share it in a future letter reflecting the “deeper thought” he expects from the editorial board of the student newspaper, instead of dismissing the measured view of the paper out of hand.

Let’s formulate the question: Should 6,000 underage Notre Dame drinkers be lightly reprimanded and sent home to bed (or even, horrors, go free), so that just one or two will not be run over by an SUV at 3 a.m. on Rt. 23, or be stabbed to death on the way home from the Lafayette Apartments? Or should justice be “swift and sure”, no matter how hard? After “thoughtful” consideration and desiring to be “helpful”, I’ll take the former. After all, tipsy college sophomore co-eds and their overly loud freshman boyfriends are not exactly heroin dealers taking over LaFortune, or murderous highwaymen on North Quad. How about we keep them safe, and maybe they’ll outgrow it.

Christopher Regan


Class of 1997

Sept. 12