Drinking on Campus

November 12, 1998
Last month prosecutors in Suffolk County, Massachusetts brought a manslaughter charge against an MIT fraternity for the death of freshman Scott Kreuger, who drank himself to death last fall at an off-campus frat party. The district attorney seriously considered bringing such a charge against the university itself.

In an attempt to head off the possibility, MIT's president Charles Vest went before the grand jury arguing that the university was not responsible for what occurred at the fraternity even though the university officially "recognized" it. He and other MIT administrators cited a 1979 decision by the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.

The case involved Pennsylvania's Delaware Valley College. The court ruled that "our beginning point is a recognition that the modern American college is not an insurer of the safety of its students" and that "college students are no longer minors." The court did note that "at one time, exercising their rights and duties in loco parentis, colleges were able to impose strict regulations."

Isn't it time we return to that concept of "in loco parentis" where the university stands in the place of parents? Young people are killing themselves with binge drinking, and other students are putting themselves at risk by drinking too much and engaging in risky behaviors.

I once asked a friend of mine about her sorority house dances. She said they didn't have the dances at the sorority house because the university wouldn't let them drink in the house. Although that didn't stop her or her sorority sisters from drinking, at least it set a limit. Today colleges shirk their responsibility by saying their students are no longer minors. Well, neither are the students at West Point, the Naval Academy, or at most Christian colleges, but those colleges set standards. It's about time that universities do the same and deal with drinking on campus.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.

© 1998 Probe Ministries International