As we get moved in for another great year at Virginia Tech, resident advisors have been holding hall meetings to remind us of the rules and regulations that go with living on campus that make life a bit more complicated and obnoxious.
For the most part, I can begrudgingly accept these rules and even agree with most of them. However, every now and then the school abuses its nearly absolute power over what happens on its campus.
One policy change this year is especially poorly thought out and should be repealed immediately. As of earlier this year, the school will now report any alcohol-related rule breaking to the student’s parents, regardless of age. That means you can be 20 years old — a legal adult for two years — and your choices will be arbitrarily reported to your parents.
I am not endorsing underage drinking; even if I think the laws should be changed, it is not up to the school to make statewide policy. I am simply saying the school has no right to report your lawbreaking to anyone but the police. As an adult, the responsibility falls to you to make choices and accept the consequences of your actions. As long as that is true, there is no reason for Tech to notify anyone else.
Common courtesy dictates that if you are living on your parents’ dime, you should probably tell them if something major happens. However, it is not up to the school to officiate manners — especially since the school has absolutely no idea what your home relationships are like.
I wish I could say this policy was illegal, but as we have seen with so many other abuses of school power — from requiring police officers to occasionally walk our halls to having drug policies that seem completely incoherent when compared to alcohol policies — the school has nearly unlimited power when dealing with behavioral rules.
As long as we are paying an exorbitant amount of money to live here, the school can do with us what it chooses. With that in mind, I am not really arguing that this particular policy is legally incorrect, I am arguing that the university should realize that it has no business interfering with our family life. Whatever your personal feelings are on drinking, it should be obvious that this policy goes too far.
There was a time when we were all under 18, and the police had a legal responsibility to report any legal violations to our parents. At the time, we had an ambiguous legal status and part of the baggage that goes along with being charged as a minor is that our parents had a chance to enforce personal punishment of their own.
That has changed now, most of us — none of this applies if you’re under 18 — will now be charged as adults, which means society expects us to be responsible for our actions. The fact the school can arbitrarily decide if we should still be treated as minors is both offensive and foolish.
It should not be Tech’s decision to intrude in our personal lives by informing parents of our actions. The moment we turned 18, it became a family decision, and the school lost whatever right it had to act on this issue.
Personally, I would tell my parents if I got a judicial referral — let’s hope not — and I suspect many people reading this think it’s not worth arguing about, since they likely would do the same. The point is the decision should be yours, and Tech’s policy is taking away that responsibility and your right.