Alcohol policy should consider student safety concerns

By Thomas Moran | Staff Writer

Every Baylor student is amply aware of the school’s Christian affiliation. Between mandatory Chapel attendance and the Christian imagery seen across campus, nearly every facet of Baylor is influenced by its Baptist roots. Baylor’s policies are no exception to this principle. However, enforcing policy which upholds Baptist values while prioritizing student welfare is not always black and white. This tension is most evident through Baylor’s current policy regarding alcohol consumption.

Currently, Baylor’s policy demands that no alcohol be on campus at any time, including in one’s digestive system. Agents of the university, including community leaders and hall directors, are trained to immediately call the Baylor University Police Department if an individual under the age of 21 is found in possession of or under the influence of alcohol, likely resulting in legal repercussions. Students over 21 might avoid a run-in with campus police; however, both legal and underage students will certainly face Judicial Affairs, with suspension and expulsion as potential sanctions.

This policy is often problematic for students who make the choice to drink off-campus without securing safe transportation, seeking safe sleeping arrangements or knowledge of their limits. Students might be faced with the decision of risking their own security and staying off-campus in a hazardous situation or returning to campus and running the risk of suffering both legal and university-based repercussions. Students should feel comfortable to return to campus, rather than compromise their safety in order to avoid disciplinary action.

Regardless of one’s opinions on alcohol consumption, underage or legal, most would agree that student safety ought to be prioritized in any situation. As Baylor emerges from a difficult era of scandal, its policies should reflect the utmost consideration for student safety and protection from the potential dangers of off-campus environments involving alcohol, including sexual assault and alcohol poisoning.

There should be a service available for students in unsafe off-campus environments to call and inform Baylor representatives of their current situation and decision to return to campus, presuming they have safe transportation. The students could be offered amnesty for having contacted the number and be allowed to return to campus without fear of repercussions.

Though students may abuse the service to return to campus without risk of repercussions, the few occasions in which a truly unsafe student is offered sanctuary from a high-risk situation would morally outweigh occasions with dishonest students, regardless of the frequency. An inebriated student back on Baylor’s safe campus is certainly preferable to a student hospitalized for alcohol poisoning or having fallen victim to sexual assault.

Rather than facing Baylor police or Judicial Affairs, students could be required to complete an alcohol course and attend some form of counseling to better understand the potential consequences of their decision to engage in reckless behavior. Rather than utilizing fear tactics with threats of tickets, fines and suspensions, rehabilitation and prevention would be far more positive ways to effect change in the student body.

Student safety is invaluable, and university policy should reflect that principle.

Thomas Moran is a junior journalism major from Greenwood Village, Colo..