CCAOD Raises Ideological Issues
With the recent release of the recommendations of the College Committee on Alcohol and Other Drugs, we, as members of the Dartmouth Community face some very serious ideological issues. While this report is specifically geared towards dealing with the role of alcohol and other drugs on our campus, the implications of its recommendations extend far beyond this relatively narrow scope. My intention is not to comment upon the specific effects of alcohol on campus, nor the pros and cons of the CFS system, but rather to call attention to the manner in which some of these recommendations are directly related to broader social and ideological issues on campus.
The most problematic aspect of this report is the proposed role of Safety and Security Officers in monitoring CFS organizations. Having concluded that students are not capable of effectively monitoring their peers, the committee recommends that officers not only monitor registered parties on a "unannounced basis," but should regularly patrol CFS organizations, "as they do residence halls and other parts of campus" (p13). Such a recommendation is deeply concerning on a number of levels. It suggests that the students of this college, specifically those involved with the CFS system, are in fact second-class citizens, in need of some sort of wiser authority to look out for their well being.
While the idea of being essentially chaperoned at parties is truly insulting and juvenile, it is the proposed day-to-day patrolling which has particularly far reaching implications within our community. The concept of patrolling student organizations (many of which are privately owned and run) against their will is very problematic within an educational community which purports to promote freedom of thought and the general positive development of its members. Furthermore, the committee's report stipulates that Safety and Security must have the full support of all members of the community, including members of the CFS system, and that "any resistance or opposition to such patrols will be treated with the utmost seriousness" (p13). These are dangerously authoritarian regulations. Not only are members of this community to be demeaningly monitored at any time, they are expected to willingly submit to such treatment. The ideology surrounding these recommendations does not exemplify the sort of ideology a free society is based upon.
The implementation of these sorts of recommendations is not a matter which concerns only the CFS system or those who choose to interact with it socially. A community's ideology should be reflected in its rules and regulations, and the institutionalized repression of any part of that community is a reflection upon the community as a whole. The promotion of these recommendations is indicative of an increasingly troublesome power dynamic at this institution, one in which at least one major segment of the community is being relegated to an ineffectual status. This is a trend which we should all be crucially aware of and which I hope is extremely troubling to most of us. Having spoken to a student member of the CCAOD about his role in formulating this report, I feel justified in claiming that these recommendations failed to take into account the concerns of the student body, and specifically the CFS system. I personally attended the open forum last January and am now shocked to see the report's basic lack of response to issues which students raised.
Personally, I have no desire to be associated with an institution which is tending toward an authoritarian power structure and I see these recommendations as being symbolic of such tendencies. The real-world equivalent to these measures would be the adoption of a policy which allowed the police to enter and search any private house under United States jurisdiction at will and without cause. We should be equally vigilant when it comes to defending our personal liberties within the Dartmouth community as we tend to be within society at large. As members of the faculty, administration, or some other component of this community, the sanctity of your homes and social spaces are thankfully not in jeopardy, but this issue still does concern you due to your association with Dartmouth College.
Being a Film Studies major, I am reminded of an article concerning the motivation behind The People vs. Larry Flynt. The film was directed by Milos Forman (One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, Amadeus), a Czech who has lived under Nazi and Communist domination and is a longtime defender of individual freedoms. Forman explained, in relation to his glorification of the battles which porn king Larry Flynt fought against censorship, that "I have seen the devastating effect these repressive measures had on the quality of life... Boredom ruled everyone except those in power, and those who were marching to the gallows" [San Francisco Chronicle 12/17/96, E1]. I am not attempting to put this issue on the same level as state sanctioned repression or censorship, but merely to point out the threat which authoritarian control poses to what should be a vibrant social and intellectual environment. The CCAOD's recommendations do not present solutions to the fundamental problems which may exist within our community, instead they exemplify even more disturbing faults. The debate over these recommendations should force us to examine where our values ultimately lie