YOUNGSTOWN YSU resists plea to allow alcohol
YSU prohibits alcohol in all five of its resident halls, even if a student is 21.
By RON COLE
VINDICATOR EDUCATION WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- A push by Youngstown State University students to relax drinking rules in campus dormitories is getting a big thumbs down from university officials.
YSU Student Government unanimously passed a resolution last week asking, among other things, that students of legal drinking age and living in dormitories be allowed to drink alcohol in their rooms.
"I don't believe it's the university's responsibility to, in a sense, legislate morality," said Dan Griesemer, 19, a YSU freshman who wrote the SG resolution.
"Current state law allows alcohol if you're 21, and this is a state institution, so it's not something that's out of line."
But the heads of YSU's housing and police departments say they're against the move because it will increase underage drinking on campus.
"Anywhere you look, you read about the problems with alcohol on college campuses," said Jack Fahey, housing director. "To be more lenient and invite more problems doesn't make sense."
YSU Police Chief John Gocala agreed. "Once you allow that, we're going to be seeing more underage people intoxicated or in possession," he said.
YSU prohibits alcohol in all five of its resident halls, even if a student is at the legal drinking age. Fahey said fewer than 30 of the 923 YSU students living on campus are age 21 or older.
Student Government President Joe Long, a senior who lives on campus, said the rules are too strict.
"I'm 21, and sometimes, when I'll have a bad day, maybe on the way to my room, I want to pick up a six-pack" of beer, he said. "That's a personal choice."
University of Akron students age 21 or older are allowed to drink in any of the school's 11 dormitories, according to UA's housing office.
At Kent State University, drinking is permitted by students age 21 or older in five of the campus' 28 resident halls, according to KSU's Web site.
Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania, on the other hand, prohibits alcohol in all resident halls, regardless of student age.
"Most universities have found a way to successfully integrate legal alcohol consumption with student life; Youngstown State is behind in that respect," Griesemer said.
Too many rules
Long said YSU's no-alcohol policy, along with restrictions on visitors and small appliances and candles in rooms, is forcing some students to look for more student-friendly housing off campus.
"I've had at least 10 people come up to me and say, 'I don't mind the dorms, but I can't take being treated like a child anymore,'" Long said.
Fahey said his office will review the students' concerns, but he said he thinks most students are very satisfied with university housing. The resident halls have been at capacity for three years, and a record number of students already have signed up to return next year, he said.
The Student Government resolution "makes it sound like no one would ever consider living in housing because it's such an oppressive place to be," Fahey said. "Well, the opposite is true. More and more students are anxious to come back to us."
Fahey said most parents like the restrictions.
"Parents want to see that you're taking rules seriously ... that their student is not going to be exposed to intoxicated students running up and down the hallways," he said.
YSU will soon break ground on a 400-student apartment complex on Wick Oval designed for upper-class students. Fahey said the university has yet to decide if drinking will be allowed in the new complex, which should be open by August 2003.
"If students want to find alcohol, they certainly can, but for a university to support that or look the other way, that's just abdicating your responsibility," he added.
YSU's student newspaper, The Jambar, also has editorialized against changing the no-alcohol policy.
"Allowing those students who are of legal drinking age to have alcohol in their rooms may seem like a good idea, but it would be nearly impossible to enforce," the editorial said. "The university has a responsibility to ensure that students who are not 21 do not have access to alcohol."