Last week, SMU announced a new system that would allow for a limited number of organization-sponsored parties featuring alcohol on campus each weekend.
SMU will now allow one organization to host a party with alcohol Friday and one Saturday. The goal is increased safety by reducing the possibility of drunk driving to and from parties located off-campus, but the restrictions to these on-campus parties are so severe as to essentially defeat the original purpose.
Students over 21 will have to wear wristbands to have access to alcohol at the parties, and the alcohol must be sourced through and served by Aramark, the company behind campus dining. Only beer and wine will be served. A minimum of three SMU police officers have to be present at each party. Parties can only be held between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays and alcohol will cease to be served a half hour before the conclusion of the party.
These restrictions clearly have good intentions, and would increase the safety of these parties, but they amount to a buzzkill that will leave off-campus parties as a clearly preferable alternative. The first problem we see with this new policy is that SMU and the student body fundamentally disagree on which days actually constitute the weekend. Students will continue to party exclusively off-campus Thursdays because the SMU-sanctioned on-campus parties begin Friday. Most parties each weekend will continue to be held off-campus, where there will be no worry of SMU PD presence and where there will be access to the hard liquor preferred at most fraternity parties.
Aside from the increased safety, what incentive does a fraternity or any other organization have to host a party on-campus instead of off-campus? The drunk driving situation is usually dealt with by using cabs or having designated drivers on call through the early hours of the morning. The cost and hassle of securing an Aramark vendor doesn’t seem particularly convenient for the groups organizing these parties either.
The environment created by these regulations appears to be similar to Boulevarding, where SMU PD patrols to keep the situation under control, only beer and wine are served, and those legally allowed to imbibe are marked with wristbands. But none of those regulations have eliminated underage drinking on the Boulevard. Many students pre-game the Boulevard elsewhere and arrive already drunk.
There is no reason to believe that these on-campus parties would operate any differently. Students who want to get drunk still have plenty of opportunities to do so. They’ll just use their fake IDs and drink elsewhere. Because only one party is allowed on campus each night, there will still be plenty of off-campus parties for underclassmen who wish to drink to attend, or for upperclassmen who wish to enjoy a Jack and Coke.
Perhaps we are too cynical, but we can’t identify why these restrictive policies would be all that appealing. The intent to increase safety and responsible behavior is one most can agree to as welcomed and necessary, but the execution of such by the new regulations does not seem as though it will accomplish those goals efficiently.
We appreciate SMU giving student organizations this opportunity, but unless the restrictions are made less restrictive, off-campus venues will likely still remain the happening place to be each weekend.
Opinions expressed in each unsigned editorial represent a consensus decision of the editorial board. All other columns reflect the views of individual authors and not necessarily those of the editorial staff.