Dry campus means a wet downtown

For about two weeks student residents have been living on a “dry” University of Vermont campus. Of course, what has been accomplished is not so much a dry campus as a more careful or paranoid student population. This is no small wonder to anyone who has looked hard at the actual policy shift, which manifests itself most clearly only to those unlucky or stupid enough to get caught.All alcohol or drug violations are now routed through the same judicial service that handles infractions ranging from plagiarism to hate crimes, thus eliminating the intermediary step of students meeting with their respective Residence Directors. The result of this centralization of judicial power and control will likely be the same as typically accompanies the attendant increase in case volume: greater reliance on brand justice and subsequent legalist dehumanization of defendants.This has been the latest development in a long line of increasingly alienating residential policies issued by an increasingly disinterested and detached administration whose only remaining tools to address the problems of student alcoholism and belligerence are threats, fear, and suspicion. Apparently nobody at the Center for Student Ethics & Standards has ever picked up an Al-Anon pamphlet. Moreover, the policy has as great a chance of punishing responsible students as it does disruptive ones, even though it was created because loud drunk people make it hard to read, not because alcohol is evil.Instead of strengthening lines of communication in order to develop a mutually acceptable policy, the University has chosen to wash its hands of its drunken and disaffected students and push even more inebriated youth on downtown Burlington. The only on-campus locales that remain for sociable drinking are now art openings and the as-yet hypothetical student bar in the as-yet unfinished student center (which, if UVM stays true to form, promises to be very expensive). There could not have been any doubt in Acting President Bramley’s mind that students would rather travel downtown for their beer than risk humiliation, fines, and expulsion on campus.But then, it always has been easier and more efficient to burden the community than work through difficulties internally. Coupled with the increased enrollment and disproportionate increase in on-campus housing, it will not be long before outraged, under-rested suburbanites and displaced low-income families are picketing on the green-that is, if the boys in Waterman don’t call Police Services and have them all removed.