Letter to the editor: treat students like adults

Andrew Roland

Dear Editor: Last week the Review reported on an incident where a student was fined for being in a dorm room where beer cans were present, a violation of the Student Code of Conduct, evidence of which came from a picture posted on Facebook. The incident brought up numerous issues regarding student privacy in our digital world and whether students should give greater consideration to “pleading the fifth” when being questioned by administrators. In addition to these important issues, the incident brings up a greater societal question of whether 18 to 20 year olds who are given the freedom to help choose our countries leaders, get married, get divorced, have children, have abortions and, most importantly, choose to serve their country in a time of war, should be denied the ability to freely choose to have a beer. Opponents of lowering the drinking age will be quick to bring up the legitimate problem of drinking and driving. However, this logic is a type of “guilt by statistical correlation.” Because 18 to 20 year old adults as a group are more likely to drink and drive, all 18 to 20 year old adults are denied the right to drink. Society has roundly rejected this type of statistical profiling in all other settings. I could imagine the outrage if a local school district chose to stop hiring male teachers, because they were statistically more likely to have inappropriate relationships with students. While Washburn University certainly has the right to regulate the behavior of all those on its campus and has the right to set expectations regarding student behavior, perhaps instead of buckling to the rest of society’s prohibitionist fervor, we should consider treating our students like the adults they are. I figure that if a student is old enough to make the ultimate sacrifice for our country, he or she is probably old enough to have a beer.

Paul Byrne, Associate Professor, Economics