Okay, I know I wrote about some of this before, but do to the response that my post on the sobriety checkpoint got, I felt it deserved a larger audience. This is my column from today's TNH. I'll also have another post up later this afternoon/evening.
According the latest Health Services table tent advertisement 73 percent of UNH students drink alcohol in a typical week. Okay, they wrote 27 percent report not drinking in a typical week but with a little simple subtraction we can flip that number around. Can we just think about that for a second? 73 percent of students polled admitted to drinking in a typical week. I’m sure that number is not exact, but there is a pretty obvious majority on the drinking side. That being said, this is a college campus, we are adults and I now have the ability to say the majority of our campus drinks. I think it is funny how those statistics are proudly displayed to try and deter students from drinking. Sure, not everybody drinks but basically three out of four do. Not too shabby if you ask me.
In last Friday’s paper the police log took up about half a page. Wait until Homecoming, Halloween weekend and concert nights and the blotter will probably take more than a page. That police log, which is just those arrests reported by the University of New Hampshire Police (not Durham), ranged from Thursday, Sept. 2, through Monday, Sept. 6, and it had 38 entries. Out of those 38 names, 26 were alcohol related. Those offenses included possession, under-aged intoxication, transportation, and having an open container. In all seriousness, who walks down the street with an open beer?
Judging from the amount of police that have been on campus so far this year we could continue to see high amounts of arrests. Sure there are always more arrests early in the year because of back-to-school parties, but something happened last Friday night (Sept. 5) that I have never heard of before. If you read my blog you may already know what I am talking about. There was a sobriety checkpoint on Main Street near the Whittemore Center. That sounds fine to me, but this particular checkpoint, which had about eight officers in that one location, was not for cars, but for pedestrians walking by. Several people informed me that they were asked to either walk a line or touch their nose. These people were not stumbling or being obnoxious, they were simply walking back to their dorm. Now, I am hoping that was a first weekend of the year scare tactic because shouldn’t the police be encouraging students to walk? I mean that is better than drunk driving, right?
Since students who choose to walk home after drinking are making the right choice, it is obvious that this checkpoint was intended for under-age drinkers. I have a major problem with this because if a student is not calling attention to himself why should he be stopped in the first place? Yes, he or she is under age and possibly intoxicated, which would be breaking the law, but is a pedestrian checkpoint really necessary? Remember, according to Health Services 73 percent of students drink alcohol in a typical week, meaning probably even more do drink, just not every week. I am going to take a stab and guess that 73 percent of this campus is not 21 years old. If you figure that the average student turns 21 during his or her junior year the majority of students are actually under 21.
The point I am trying to make is that it sounds as though the police are out to get everyone who is under 21 and has been drinking. Does sipping a beer truly warrant an arrest if you are in control? If you are being a maniac or holding open containers on the side of the road or you can barely walk and calling attention to yourself then, yeah, you kind of deserve being arrested. Or does it not make a difference because breaking the law is breaking the law? Every weekend there will be drunken students who put themselves or others in danger and it seems as though a sobriety checkpoint would be a waste of police resources. If there are eight officers in one area field-testing every single student who walks by, then there is a greater chance the police may miss the opportunity to prevent or respond to a more serious crime somewhere else on campus. I understand that those who break the law should be punished, but the reason this bothers me is because of how it shows the true priorities of police on this campus.
Stay classy, not UMassy