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Students OUTRAGED By Crackdown On Campus Drinking

Huffington Post   First Posted: 06/14/10 06:12 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 05:10 PM ET


In Wisconsin, attitudes toward underage drinking are typically relaxed -- Especially in the aptly named town Stout, which is home to a branch of the University of Wisconsin.

But the school's chancellor, Charles Sorenson, wants to change that. The University of Wisconsin-Stout has seen six alcohol-related deaths in two years, and Sorenson is taking drastic steps to stymie alcohol abuse on campus. In a March 30 letter to students, Sorenson outlined plans to more strongly prosecute underage drinking, coordinate with local police to enforce laws off-campus and even add more Friday classes to thwart Thursday night partying.

Stout students are not happy. Inside Higher Ed reports:

Some students embarked on binges explicitly aimed at defying Sorensen's hardened stance. Others took to Facebook: One group, called "Who Is the chancelor [sic] trying to kid? This is Stout!!!" has attracted more than 1,460 members. On the group's wall, a student senate presidential candidate called the decision "rash" and proposed to "take back the campus."

Other students are going to more extreme measures:

Paul Feine, a former Stout student who produced -- shortly before the latest alcohol-related death (and Sorensen's subsequent memo) -- a documentary short on the "police state" attitude the university and the town take toward underage drinking, said he believes the best way to combat alcohol abuse is to take a more permissive tack with minors, allowing moderate alcohol use and punishing excess. In his piece, Feine sympathizes with the Amethyst Initiative, a coalition of college and university presidents that advocates reducing the legal drinking age to 18 in order to bring drinking above ground, where it would be easier to monitor.

Some think the restrictions may be counterproductive, encouraging students to drink more.

What do you think?
"Kids don't learn how to drink," Feine says. "They don't learn how to drink with parents, with their professors. There's a culture that teaches you how to behave yourself you do run into a lot more problems when young people learn how to drink on their own."