A Cause for Outrage?

by The Dartmouth Editorial Board | 10/26/94 6:00am

Once college students took risks to speak out about their convictions. Our predecessors protested Vietnam and fought for divestment because they believed in human rights, and they sacrificed their convenience to demonstrate the depth of their commitment. One need only recall the students and professors who spent winter nights in shanties on the Green to comprehend the scope of the campus' concerns.

Today the character of campus politics could provide the plot for an episode of "Beavis and Butthead." What issue is burning up everyone's BlitzMail? Our "right" to party. The Associated Press released an inaccurate report about a "new" Hanover police policy of arresting underage drinkers for possession of alcohol if they appeared to be intoxicated in public. Spurious rumors of mandatory breathalyzer tests and outrage over seemingly violated constitutional rights have whipped students into a frenzy.

It's not wrong to question the fairness of police procedure, but it is disappointing to realize that this questioning arises from an overwhelming concern for our own leisure and convenience. National Coming Out Day, the Holocaust conference and Domestic Violence Awareness Week seem to have evoked mild interest compared with the unholy suggestion that underage drinkers might be punished for their actions. Can we aspire to no greater ideal than to preserve the dubious privilege of staggering down Main Street drunk? What if all the sound and fury produced by this frivolous issue were directed toward less selfish, more substantive concerns? We have so much talent, energy and insight: how tragic that we lack the perspective to apply it meaningfully.