Shuttle sends sparks flying

First off, I’d like to personally thank everyone who commented on The Northerner’s article about the Northern Kentucky University Student Government Association “Hockey Shuttle Resolution.” The exchange of ideas is certainly fostered by our campus community and created learning opportunities for all students. This week, I’d like to summarize the arguments for each side, and offer my own personal insight.

One argument is NKU is sending the wrong message to students and rewarding drinking by providing a bus to intoxicated students. Most support for that argument follows the logic that drinking is illegal on campus and providing intoxicated students with transportation would be perceived as promoting drinking to an age group and culture that doesn’t need any encouragement.

Another segment within the anti-busing faction said that it is unfair for students who do not drink or are morally opposed to the (over) consumption of alcohol to pay for the transportation of drunken students out of their own pockets.

On the other hand, supporters focus on the need to promote a more collegiate environment at NKU. If they do so by offering a sober ride to someone who wishes to enjoy a hockey game and its concessions, then it would be just to do so. This group says it is more important to promote personal freedom than to ban drinking altogether. So long as neighbors aren’t complete drunken fools or do something to endanger someone else’s personal welfare, this segment seems ambivalent, at best, about what people do on their own time.

One post summarized the debate in a cold, hard fashion by saying, “It amazes me that though some are indoctrinated to believe in a religion that proclaims money is the root of all evil would argue over an amount as petty as the $200 cost that is spread over a student population of 14,000+ total students. I’d gladly give two prohibitionists their three-cent share of this unfair charge for the peace of mind that I’d be taking less risk of being hit by an impaired driver leaving for or returning from a hockey game when they could have taken a bus there and back.”

That would be a very solid argument; however, the actual figure would come out to less than 18 cents per student per year and only 1.5 cents per student per game. My figure takes approximately 14,000 students and divides that by $2,400, which is the cost of busing for 12 games at a rate of $200 per game, giving you 18 cents a person per year.

Then there’s yet another segment who think busing is a good idea to promote university pride, but worry that sober times will be ruined by the inevitable event of someone refusing to cut themselves off when needed. But people make mistakes, humans are flawed by nature. Look at the world around us- it’s full of imperfections.

But to anyone for complete prohibition, I would quote John D. Rockefeller: “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; the speakeasy has replaced the saloon; a vast army of lawbreakers has appeared; many of our best citizens have openly ignored Prohibition; respect for the law has been greatly lessened; and crime has increased to a level never seen before.”

As someone who’s felt the effects of drunk-driving first hand, I still can’t envision drinking as the problem. People are inevitably going to drink, especially in the experimentation phases of college. Offering students who choose to drink a responsible plan isn’t “rewarding” alcoholism, it’s showing students that it’s better to make the right choice.

I don’t think it’s any secret that alcohol is readily available in the United States, in any wet or dry county. Alcohol consumption has been commonplace in our society for generations, and since it can be enjoyed reasonably and responsibly, it is, therefore, legally deemed acceptable by society.

In America, we’ve gone soft. People think that they have the personal right to be protected from something that they may find mildly offensive.

Guess what? There are plenty of things that offend me, such as people who shove religion down your throat or those who needlessly question everything you do “just to look out for you,” or those who stereotype every drinker as a drunk with comments like, “And who is to pay to shuttle these drunks to and from the games?”

I don’t think anyone would claim that putting large quantities of alcohol into your body is a good thing.

However, we should keep in mind that there’s a difference between an occasional drinker and a drunk. It’s bad to play devil’s advocate for actions that, when perverted to unhealthy levels, can lead to serious social problems.

Nevertheless, we should stand up for the rights of the responsible drinkers and consider who is really being disenfranchised and cheated in all of this debate. If students were bused, rides could be denied to students who either aren’t of legal age, or are simply too drunk to have any business in public.

Those students should be forced to pay for a taxi, not someone who doesn’t live up to every standard of someone else’s moral code.

I encourage readers to send their replies on this debate: the inevitable reality that some college students are going to choose to drink cannot be ignored. How effective are collegiate laws geared toward alcohol consumption, and why should they matter for everyone? Consider other institutions, such as neighboring colleges. Alcoholism shouldn’t be difficult for college students to discuss, and opening dialogue on problems in a university forum seems a good place to start.