I am a freshman living in the Hall on Virginia Avenue who has been written up twice for alcohol possession. My friends and I have been persecuted and harassed as if we are living in a prison – a prison called HOVA. But we shouldn’t be pointing fingers at the people who run our dorm, this is a University-wide problem. Isn’t college about making your own choices and being independent? I feel like I’m at summer camp with no arts and crafts.
The first time my friends and I were written up it was well deserved. We were drinking in my room, being loud and basically asking for it. Fine. After we were written up, we offered our non-alcoholic drink mix to our community facilitator, jokingly saying how we had no more need for the item. One of my contemporaries was written up for sarcasm about alcohol. Not only are our rooms checked on weekends for a lights out summer-camp-like exercise, our freedom of speech has been abridged. Not only can we not drink alcohol, we can’t even talk about it, let alone joke about it. How dare we do such a horrible thing?
Several weeks after the first incident, I was disturbed by ill-tempered CFs actively looking for alcohol. I was assessed another violation because someone had left something in my room. Perhaps CF should stand for comforting fascist rather than community facilitator. Not only was no music playing in my room but my girlfriend and I were in our pajamas trying to get some sleep. The alcohol was not mine, and I had no knowledge of it being there. Unfortunately, under the red iron fist of University rule, the principle that possession entails your knowledge of the substance in question does not apply.
Another example of these tactics reared its ugly head when a colleague of mine had his room raided and tossed Gestapo-style on a tip. Upon confronting the University officials responsible for the raid, he was not even told why his room was targeted or what charges he was to be brought up on. In fact, he wasn’t even there, he had no previous record and nothing illegal had ever happened in his room. His clothes and possessions were left strewn about his room; they didn’t even have the courtesy to put anything back. When were our Constitutional rights thrown out the proverbial window? I know I signed a housing agreement; was that just a way to let University officials do whatever they please? They can treat students like human beings, can’t they? Cameras in the hallways, room checks – where are my leg irons and my bright orange jumpsuit?
In no way am I saying I am justified in drinking alcohol in freshman residence hall. I am under the legal drinking age in the D.C., as well as everywhere else in the country. I am just truly shocked and amazed at how this University is searching and destroying rather than trying to control what they know will happen.
We have one of the most stringent alcohol policies in the country. If alcohol use and abuse is a recurring problem, maybe administrators need to sit down and reassess what should be considered a violation of University policy and how students should be punished for it. Is the alcohol policy a reflection of the fact that GW doesn’t realize that college students drink alcohol? Is that possible? Students get three chances in four years; is that enough? Is the $25 fine and educated choices really an effective method of dealing with people who have violated the alcohol policy such as myself?
I don’t think this University is being realistic. The University needs to rethink this issue and how it is being handled all over campus.
-The writer is a freshman HOVA resident.