Punishing drunk students only puts them in danger

Amanda Irons
Amanda Irons

It’s Friday night and nothing is going right. Your sandal broke, you’ve thrown back a few more shots than you usually do and you’re tired.

And on top of all that, you also live in the dorms. The current protocol at Chico State’s residence halls dictates that if you come home drunk, you’ll get written up, interrogated and worse — you’ll get the cops called on you. So instead of going home and calling it a night, you’re forced to wander around downtown, walk off your drinks and wait until you can pull yourself together enough to put on a decent sober face.

Although the university claims this policy protects students, it doesn’t help freshmen who aren’t familiar with the Chico area and the dangers that come with the fall of night.drunkfreshman

For those of you who missed out on the enlightening dorm experience or perhaps only recall that period of your life in a dream-like distant haze, the procedure goes as follows: Before entering their dorms, students must first locate their key and ID cards. Those who’ve been drinking a little must swiftly open the door with minimal blunders and approach the front desk. Then they are forced to make eye contact with the desk attendant, who will either let them continue on to their room, or pull them aside and ask them a series of questions to determine how drunk they are.

Depending on how well the student acts, the desk attendant might send the student to bed. Or they might call the cops.

Getting sent to bed is the only option that allows students to walk away without a strike on their record. If they fail inspection, they might spend the night in the drunk tank. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.

Don’t get me wrong, the dormitories should enforce the law. By no means should they turn a blind eye to the consumption of alcohol under their roof. But they’re putting student safety in jeopardy by denying them the only home they have in Chico. To me, university policy only ensures that Chico State isn’t legally liable for drunk students. It doesn’t do anything for student safety and actually discourages students from coming home after hours.

I’ve been a freshman before. I’ve sat on the “sober stones” between Whitney Hall and Sutter Hall, flip-flops in hand, trying to control the drunken slurs that were oh-so-eager to pass my lips. I’ve waited to sober up enough so I could get into my room and enjoy the instant mac ’n cheese that I’d purchased specifically for nights like those. I’ve been the friend who accompanies the drunker friend home, rubbing their back and attempting to imitate some motherly reassurances. I give thanks to the resident advisors who patrol that area for never giving me too hard a time. I really appreciated the check-ups that come with their jobs when they performed them in a caring way.

Some people might make the argument that drunk students shouldn’t be intoxicated in the first place, that they need to feel the long hard hand of the law slapping them back in place, or whatever. I just don’t see this as practical. We know that students are drinking underage. We can confirm the countless reports of rape, gang activity and general acts of violence against Chico State students. But there seems to be a disconnect when it comes to protecting student safety because of old Johnny Law.

There needs to be some middle-ground policy that encourages students to come home safe and allows the university to take care of students too drunk to go straight to bed.


Amanda Irons can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_opinion on Twitter.