Slow and Steady Makes New Policies Work


During the ASA AGM last week, I found myself making suggestions I would have hated hearing when I was 17 or 18.
The floor had been opened to discuss suggestions for the new substance policies coming to campus next semester and I put forward the idea that, if residences are going to allow alcohol, it would be an idea to keep First Year Dorms alcohol free.
I made this suggestion for two reasons:
1. Some first years aren’t legal when they come to Augustana and that way it makes it easier to know that people aren’t consuming alcohol illegally.
2. First year is already rife with all sorts of new experiences, that including alcohol in dorms during that period may not be the best idea.
Jennae Matzner, VP Student Life, came up with a very good counter point that students come to university expecting to have more freedom and can often find the restrictions on campus to be infuriating.
And I get it! I so completely understand that students want to have those freedoms to do “what they want” on campus. I was once an 18-year-old first year and snuck alcohol into my alcohol free residence (I was in Ontario at the time) and felt that the rules were too overbearing and that I knew better.
The thing is, eight years later, I understand where my school’s administration was coming from and why they had the rules they did. It was less about trying to keep me “in line” and more about protecting their back. Because, as responsible as university students believe they are (and yes! Some of us are very responsible!), there’s always that chance that something could go too far and something could go seriously wrong. Students always think it’ll happen another year or to other students until it doesn’t and having policies in place actually means administrations are looking out for the worst possible outcome.
That sounds morbid and like an overreaction, but it’s the reality of what people in positions of power are looking at.
Does that mean that policies should stay the same for decades on end? No and that’s why Academic Council is taking a look at the substance policy, because times demand change and change is a good and necessary part of life.
But that doesn’t mean swinging from one extreme to another is the way to go, either. Finding some point in between, where change moves forward without disrupting the whole institution should always be the goal. As changes are made and people get comfortable, more changes can be made. Which isn’t always what people what to hear.

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