Column: Covering their assets

A few weeks ago, I went to see the film “The Aristocrats,” which features many different comedians telling the same joke. In case you haven’t heard, it is undoubtedly the filthiest joke ever told. As soon as I heard such a movie was being made, I naturally had to see it.

At the theater, I went up to the ticket booth with my money and student-discount-granting GWorld card. The woman behind the counter then politely asked for my I.D.

I pointed to the GWorld.

“No, your I.D.”

Reacting to the puzzled look on my face, my friend told me she meant my driver’s license. Due to the mature content of the joke, the theater was requiring all moviegoers to be 17.

Since freshman year, I can’t remember how many R-rated movies I’ve seen at this particular theater, and never once have I been asked for an I.D. I tell this story to illustrate the similar predicament shared by movie houses and our university over the issue of age.

With GW though, the issue isn’t content, but alcohol use. Since the start of the school year, two university initiatives have brought the issue to the forefront.

The University, after years of poking and prodding by the Student Association and other groups and students, has agreed to implement an amnesty policy for students needing medical attention as a result of overuse of alcohol. With this rule comes stipulations and technicalities that an intoxicated student is unlikely to comprehend. Nevertheless, since the policy places priority on a person’s health rather than potential punishment, it’s a good thing. It could be argued, I suppose, that when making a rule there should be as few exceptions to that rule as possible. In other words, somehow this might encourage students to drink more because they won’t have to face consequences. Even if this were the case, the benefit of aiding a sick student outweighs the enforcement of a rule that is obviously not being followed in the first place. Because the amnesty is applied only if the student has no prior write-ups, one would hope a trip to the hospital would be a more effective learning experience than an SJS hearing.

Another plan the University has put in place to respond to drinking is having more CFs in upperclassman dorms to crack down on underage drinking and other problems. I wonder though, by the time someone is a junior how much more community facilitating do they need, especially when their facilitators are also juniors or younger? If the “CF-ing” becomes intrusive enough, upperclassmen can always move off campus. Most likely, however, they’ll just turn down the music.

The steps the University is taking are reactionary – attempting to solve the problem after it has already happened. It would be easier to have kids not drinking then to have to deal with the consequences afterward. While this sounds well and good, it isn’t the University’s responsibility to watch over us as if it was our parent. GW is, after all, a real estate company – I mean – academic institution. Considering we all are, or are on our way to, becoming adults, it would be nice not to be treated like wards of the University.

Similarly, it isn’t the responsibility of moviemakers to prevent underage moviegoers from getting into their pictures. For all of Spielberg’s creative intellect, he’s not a mall cop. Still, the Motion Picture Association of America implemented a rating system in response to pressure to keep so-called adult content away from minors. Hollywood has acquiesced to this system because they want to show to the public they are responsible about the content of their films. (Because “The Aristocrats” is technically a documentary, it does not have to abide by this same system.)

Even though it is an academic institution, GW has to demonstrate to its patrons, (i.e. parents who are paying more than $40,000 a year) that it is keeping students away from potentially dangerous activities. Putting more CFs in dorms gives this impression. Also, it helps the University keep an eye on its property. What is the purpose of building sparkling dorm after sparkling dorm just so students can drunkenly muck them up?

I once got into an R-rated movie when I was 16. I got in even after the ticket-taker asked for and looked at my driver’s license. Oddly enough that time too, I mistakenly showed her my school I.D. first. The movie industry isn’t going to stop kids from going to dirty movies, nor is the University going to stop its underage students from drinking. The best both can do is make a small effort, show that they are trying and otherwise excel at what they are created to do, be that educate students or make filthy, filthy movies.

-The writer is a junior majoring in political science.

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