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Police should aggressively combat drinking on campus

Public outcry delayed a novel idea to stop underage drinking at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., but the new tactic is a good way USF and other colleges could deal with the problem.

Hanover Police planned to send undercover officers into college parties to catch anyone serving alcohol to underage students. This led to mass protest from Dartmouth students and faculty – especially those in Greek organizations.

Police announced last week that they would delay the new compliance checks, but if the college did not take action to reduce underage drinking, they would start the initiative.

“The ball is thrown back to their court to orchestrate in some meaningful way some changes,” Hanover Police Chief Nicholas Giaccone said to the Union Leader. “There’s really no specific time frame. We don’t expect it to be over a year or even six months. This needs to start being evident in a fairly short time frame. We’re not going to wait very long.”

While any on-campus parties may be subject to infiltration, Giaccone announced Feb. 4 that the initiative was specifically aimed at a group of Greek organizations, according to the student newspaper, The Dartmouth.

USF police should consider a similar aggressive initiative.

Campus police have a lot of freedom when it comes to university-owned buildings, and even Hanover police operatives can legally enter any Greek building if they don’t have surveillance equipment, Giaccone said to The Dartmouth.

The fact is underage drinking and serving alcohol to underage students is illegal. Rather than wait for students to get behind the wheel or disrupt the public, Hanover Police decided to take a proactive step to stop illegal activity.

If there’s nothing to hide and it abides by school rules, there should be no complaint. Those who say such police action is too drastic fail to see the harm in underage drinking.

A comprehensive study on the minimum drinking age published in the journal, Accident Analysis and Prevention, found that laws raising the age to 21 led to an 11 percent drop in alcohol-related traffic deaths among young people.

Teenage drinking can affect developing minds and may lead to alcohol abuse later in life. About 95 percent of adults who were classified as having alcohol dependence or abuse in 2003 started drinking before the age of 21, according to data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

According to a study by the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, binge drinking also decreased after the drinking age was raised, except for one demographic: college students.

Students are binge drinking about as much as they were when the legal age was 18, according to these studies. It’s up to universities and police to enforce the law, so tactics like those proposed at Dartmouth may not be such a bad idea.