The stories were not related, but it is only a matter of time until they are.
Last Friday, as part of his ongoing battle to ban drink specials, Chancellor Wiley announced the end of 46-oz. cups on the Union Terrace. Saturday at the Mifflin St. Block Party, one student fell off a porch, another was sexually assaulted, and four people were transported to detox.
The political motivation of Wiley?s action is obvious—lengthening the Union?s hours while trying to restrict private bars looks hypocritical at best. But Wiley?s action shows that he still does not get it—drink specials, including 46-oz. beers for $5.25, are not the cause of high-risk student drinking, and banning them will do more harm than good.
The Mifflin Street Block Party is obviously a unique event, but the fact remains that at its core it is another unregulated, unsupervised, dangerous house party writ large. Yet it is to parties just like these students will flock in correlation with increased regulation of bars—the same bars that have handled unique events like Rose Bowls and Final Fours with a degree of safety unmatched on other college campuses.
As we have said all year, until attitudes change and alternatives increase, students will drink; the only question is where. We think it rather obvious that a regulated, supervised bar is a far better alternative than dangerous house parties; even better is an all-ages option offering both entertainment and alcohol—like the Terrace—where underagers have an entertainment option and those of age are not focused on drinking.
The university should try to encourage options like the Terrace, in addition to social-norms campaigns that have proven successful on other campuses. The fact that Wiley is limiting the Terrace as part of his effort to limit bars is unsettling for anyone concerned that last weekend?s dangers could become a weekly reality.