Thursday Debate: Students must take personal responsibility

What do you think about AU's new drug policy?

AU's new drug policy, which notifies parents of students for anything from a minor infraction to major abuse of illegal drugs, is a flawed policy. The administration appears to recognize the maturity level of its students in some areas of campus life -University bureaucrats aren't calling parents when their son or daughter is doing poorly in a class or doesn't attend enough classes. But such is not the case when it comes to drug or alcohol use.

The first flaw with the new policy (as well as the old policy) is obvious: The policy of parental notification treats adults as children, thereby infantilizing perfectly capable college students. We, as sovereign individuals, own our own bodies and make conscious choices regarding our actions. Just like any other adult, it is inappropriate for the legal or disciplinary situations of AU students to be shared with anyone other than the appropriate authorities involved in specific case instances. For those who disagree, consider AU staff and faculty, also presumably legal adults: Is the parental notification policy the same for administration, faculty, staff, and students? No. Because students, in this instance, are viewed as inferiors despite the fact that the majority of students have the same adult legal status as others present on the AU campus.

Seeing that some AU students are financially independent, it's ridiculous that the University would stoop so low as to consult parental units about matters that may not even apply to the parents of any given individual. Not everyone relies on their parents for support at the University level. How dare our arrogant administration take issues of a personal nature to those who not only have no say in some of our lives, but also people who some of us don't even speak to. I have several acquaintances that don't even talk to their parents, let alone receive financial support from them.

For those students who are close to their parents, the policy undermines parental authority. Parents are constantly told to establish open, honest, and trusting relationships with their children. This sensible goal is undermined by the administrative bureaucracy substituting its judgment for that of its students and their parents.

Personal responsibility should be fostered at a university setting, not discouraged. College is a stepping stone between the shelter of home life and the real world. It's a relatively protected environment in which students learn how to take care of themselves and in which students are supposed to develop a sense of personal responsibility. Are 18-year-old adults able to take responsibility for their own acts and straighten out their own mistakes? Or should the University be the students' baby-sitter? Our administration is obligated to be explicit about how it views its students and its relationship with them; It doesn't trust us, nor does it believe we're capable of making our own decisions properly. What an abomination!

Personal privacy and health matters are also of grave importance to the University's flawed, statist parental notification policy. AU's current policy is clearly a model of scrutiny and invasion of personal privacy. By notifying parents upon violation, the policy encourages students who engage in risky behaviors to take extreme steps to avoid getting caught. Our University's policies should reflect those of an open society that values individual privacy in matters of health and rule infractions. Instead, the parental notification policy does the opposite.

AU is a private institution; No federal mandates regarding parental notification apply unless similar policies are adopted by AU governing bodies. Students are considered by the courts to be adults and there is no reason why they should be treated any differently by the University. Who knows what's next if the current trend continues? Parent-professor conferences? Meetings with President Ladner and the 'rents over fall break? Not likely. So why can't the administration simply recognize individual sovereignty on an issue that involves both personal privacy and health?

Students attend AU with the understanding (and the contractual agreement) that they have the power and prerogative to govern themselves. At the university level, students live under policies of their own creation, whether through direct referendum or by representation on governing bodies. To take the adjudication of drug or alcohol violations out of students' hands is a step in the wrong direction because it removes self-governance, an aspect of the University system that sets it apart from other institutions in the country.

Parental notification, while a nice idea for those attempting to overcome the problem of college drinking in a single bound, inappropriately widens the University's jurisdiction and thereby breaches students' rights by revealing aspects of their behavior that only they should have the right to disclose. The parental notification policy is reminiscent of the measures taken to discipline pre-school students. This kind of discipline should be seen as beneath us in a University setting. The University administration as well as all AU students who value personal responsibility, self-governance, privacy, and health matters should be ashamed that we have allowed ourselves to sink to this level. To return to how university students were treated before the late '60s would be a giant step backward for students, professors, and administrators alike.

Do you oppose the University's childish parental notification policy? If so, join our campaign by e-mailing YouthRights@aol.com and expressing your interest. Together, the student body can hopefully bring about a more mature policy for our campus community.

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