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Josh Bell | Thursday, September 2, 2010

Dear Ryan Kreager,

Thank you. I did not know that underage drinking was a crime. Maybe it’s because I don’t know the definition of word “underage,” or maybe it’s because I’m not sure exactly what people are drinking. Juice?

This, at least to me, isn’t an issue of whether or not kids drinking alcohol is a crime, nor is it an issue of police addressing all crimes, instead of prioritizing according to seriousness. This is an issue of how college students are treated by the South Bend Police Department.

Consider this: what is more dangerous to society? A college student with a beer, or a college student behind the wheel of a car? (Noted, a college student behind the wheel of a car with a beer is most deadly, and just stupid). But here is my point. If I am pulled over by a cop for speeding, I might get at worst a $150 fine. But if I am busted at a party for underage drinking, the current trend is to get arrested and booked downtown, with aggressive cops dealing with mostly cooperative students. I can’t defend any person who decides to run, or punch a cop, but it is definitely not fair or just for police to openly say their policy is to not incarcerate cooperative students, and then turn around and arrest anyone involved at a party, as they did this past Monday night. A night, in which collectively, the average BAC of six students arrested was .03. And it is definitely not fair for police to say over their megaphone, as they pulled away from the house, “Thanks for your business tonight.” That was a good one. I’m glad to know these cops have their priorities straight. Business first, safety second.

Arrests go on record, and it is difficult to move ahead in life with an alcohol-related arrest, as opposed to say, a speeding ticket, on your record. But let’s return to my question: what is in fact more dangerous to society? And therein lies the issue: Cops treat underage alcohol consumption with greater severity, and often overstep their consideration in protecting the community, while disproportionately affecting the students involved.

But hey, good for you, Ryan, good for you. I thank you for your viewpoint. Your words of encouragement will lead to a lot of great change here on campus. I just know it. In the meantime, just go back to your medieval studies, or art history, or MBA, or whatever. You must have academia of the highest order to be working on.

Josh Bell


off campus

Sep. 1