GROUP THINK is The Daily Pennsylvanian’s round table section, where we throw a question at the columnists and see what answers stick. Read your favorite columnist, or read them all.
This past weekend a petition calling for Penn to roll back its event monitor policies gained a lot of traction. Do you believe that the task force efforts to combat sexual violence and substance abuse are currently misguided with regard to events monitoring? If so, what policies should the administration consider as an alternative?
Spencer Swanson | Spencer's Space
I wholeheartedly agree with the call for Penn to roll back its policies that intensify the University’s monitoring of events. I’m not sure I agree with all of the statements in the recent change.org petition, specifically its assertion that our best Penn memories will come via our off-campus antics. I do, however, stand firmly in the camp that objects to Penn’s paternalistic approach. Life outside the classroom and away from our club and job search obligations is indeed integral to our intellectual growth and emotional wellbeing. Significantly, this extracurricular, off-campus life must let Penn students feel free and unencumbered. Just as importantly, we should feel safe from sexual harassment and the dangers associated with our own and our peers’ excessive substance abuse. I just don’t think that task force patrols in bulletproof vests standing guard outside an off-campus frat party is the best approach.
Cameron Dichter | Real Talk
It's entirely fair for students to question Penn's policies, especially when they encroach on off-campus life. But to try and claim, as the author of the petition did, that cracking down on frat parties is somehow a mental health issue is insulting to those on campus who actually suffer from mental illness.
James Lee | The Conversation
"When Prohibition was introduced, I hoped that it would be widely supported by public opinion and the day would soon come when the evil effects of alcohol would be recognized. I have slowly and reluctantly come to believe that this has not been the result. Instead, drinking has generally increased." — John D. Rockefeller.
Isabella Simonetti | Simonetti Says So
As a freshman, it’s difficult for me to take a stance on whether or not the task force’s efforts to combat sexual violence and substance abuse are misguided. I’ve received minimal reliable information on the policies of the task force, and have had no personal experience dealing with them. However, I have closely read the by College senior Cami Potter that has garnered the attention of thousands of Penn students, demanding less rigorous enforcement of current rules with regards to Greek life and parties.
In the petition, Potter failed to cite particular aspects of the task force’s policies that require change, and instead, inappropriately used Penn’s mental health crisis as rationale for her vague argument. “Rather than spend money and time on creating a task force to combat skyrocketing depression rates from academic and financial pressures, Penn has decided to create a task force that debilitates one of the very things that keeps its students sane: their lives outside of school,” she wrote.
Anxiety and depression are not excuses to sanction parties where illegal activity is taking place, particularly in today’s rape culture. According to the , “Among undergraduate students, 23.1% of females and 5.4% of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation.” These statistics may warrant strict regulation of on- and off-campus parties.
But perhaps shutting down events is not the most effective way to target issues of substance abuse and sexual violence. Penn might want to consider providing students with more of an education on these topics as opposed to blindly closing down parties.
Ultimately, Cami Potter’s petition should not be the argument we use to demand the revision the task force’s current policies. However, it seems that there may be room for reform in how Penn addresses the pressing issues of rape and substance abuse.
Lucy Hu | Fresh Take
In an email to the student body, the vice provost for university life essentially declared that Penn would spend precious resources on having officers roam up and down Pine Street on Friday nights.
In this whole mess, Penn seems to be missing the obvious. Underage students like to drink alcohol, and they will not be stopped by event monitors. Mandating the registration of events that serve alcohol does not limit illegal consumption — it doesn’t even promote safe consumption. Rather, it pushes the illegal drinking beyond the peripheries of the event monitors.
No matter the scope of the officials, and no matter the amount of resources Penn wants to senselessly devote to becoming a spy agency, students will always find a way to consume their desired amount of alcohol if they have an intent to do so.
Instead of disastrously trying to prohibit minors from drinking, Penn should wholeheartedly accept that many students choose to drink. Resources should be diverted to education and support. The earlier that a student knows how to drink responsibly, the less chances there are for dangerous substance abuse. Coming into Penn, students should be taught ways to mitigate alcohol risk, not intimidated with the proposition that monitors will be checking on them. When did prohibition ever work?
All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.