CP Editorial: Break this law but not our intiative

It was the last night of the weekend after our first week of classes came to a close. I heard a commotion in the lounge of my residence hall and assumed it was the typical banter of the more outgoing students on my floor. Preparing myself to take a shower, I discovered the reason for the noise. Right away, I observed a good amount of water puddling the floor. Continuing on towards the showers, I noticed a mop occupying the sink and two girls running back and forth between there and the first shower on the left. Note: I was in the men’s bathroom.

Then I began to realize the reality of the situation. A freshman, not knowing his drinking limit, was puking his guts out in the shower. Letting out a sigh of pity, my mind flashed back to an identical situation one year ago. As a freshman I walked into the same drunk college bathroom ordeal. I know many people can relate to a similar scenario. I sighed not because I did not want to help the poor guy, but because he wasn’t really helping himself by drinking so much.

Some may argue that college students should seek these “typical” experiences so they can look back on their wild college years with fondness. In fact, maybe this idea is so engrained in our society and culture right now that breaking the drinking age law is thought of as easy, or even a must, for most underage students.

The drinking age law isn’t the only rule that seems easily broken. The University of Missouri put a new smoking policy in place on July 1, 2013. It prohibits anyone from smoking inside the perimeters of the campus. Smokefree.missouri.edu states, “The University of Missouri is committed to making our campus a healthy place to work, live and learn.” But, is the university really committed to enforcing public health rules?

From what I have seen thus far, the policy is not being enforced. I’ve seen a handful of people still lighting up cigarettes around campus and cigarette butts lining the edge of trashcans. Apparently, we’re in the “compliance” stage. According to smokefree.mizzou.edu/policy/compliance-tips.php, “Compliance is everyone’s business. If you see someone violating the smoking policy, please approach the person in a kind, compassionate way.”

But what if I don’t care? What if large portions of MU students don’t care? The Official Rules and Regulations for Living in the Residence Halls states, “Residence hall staff will confiscate and dispose of any alcohol and alcohol paraphernalia found in the possession of residents or their guests,” but it seems to lack a lasting consequence because, according to the student handbook, the worst-case scenario may result in attending an alcohol education class. Could the same degree of punishment in the alcohol policy foreshadow an ineffective smoking policy?

Some may be unaware that owning a stolen street sign in your residence hall could result in a call to the MU Police Department. Even if the illegal sign manifests to a misconstrued sense of masculinity, it still affects other people who need that sign to stay safe on the road. That’s why the law was made.

It seems if there is an illegal outside connection that needs the MUPD to be involved, then it becomes a bigger issue. But, if illegal activity is in a controlled local environment, the residential hall staff has the choice to deal with the situation.

How often does residential hall staff see illegal drinking going on in the residence halls of this campus and do something about it? If the compliance effect has been useless in a closed community of students living together, then compliance certainly will not work in an open area on campus. Is it really the average student’s job to enforce rules and policies where residence hall staff cannot provide authority? Most students are more concerned about dealing with everyday stresses and school to hassle with being the first person to tell a smoker to “put it out.”

Certain actions and items are illegal for a reason. A quick call to the admissions office left me with evidence that nearly 100 percent of students are 18 or older. I find it ironic that MU is targeting a legal unhealthy activity with weak enforcement tactics —similar tactics to those they unsuccessfully use against the illegal unhealthy activity of underage drinking. The laws were created and set in effect for a reason, and that reason was and still is to protect us from hurting others and ourselves. Why break it? Why break any law?

Since the university has interest in the well-being of students then maybe it should be interested in leading a new campaign to enforce its currently neglected alcohol policies. I’m confused as to why the university started a new smoking ban, when the alcohol policy fails on many accounts.

I’m just a student coming from a student’s perspective but both policies seem to have little to no effect on students attending this university. However, I will grant the policies look really attractive to visitors and prospective students as well as in advertising and in the rulebooks.

Zach Carter

About the Author Zach Carter

Growing up in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, Zach had the best of both worlds. He was able to experience city life while being only minutes away from the corn fields. He recently traveled to Japan for two months, which helped him see the importance of environmental and science writing. “A good journalist is someone who is not only well versed in writing but also experienced in their field” Carter said. Carter is a part of the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources because he feels it will prepare him for many types of journalism, from environmental to agriculture, something that he believes needs to be emphasized. Carter would also like to incorporate his passion for film with majoring in science and agriculture journalism.