During Deliberation Nation, I attended the deliberation that talked about drinking at Penn State, called, “We Are…A “Dry Campus”? A Discussion about Penn State’s Drinking Policies. Before attending, I thought it would be very difficult for me to relate to the topic due to my lack of involvement with drinking, I found that it was a very novel discussion since instead of analyzing various policies that preventing students from drinking at Penn State, the discussion was geared more towards how to make the inevitable drinking culture safer since as many attendees mentioned, college students will drink no matter the policies in place to stop them.
Before the deliberation even began, I was surprised to see how many people showed up at the Fraser Commons. The professor had to grab more chairs so everyone could sit and even then, someone was standing in the back so I would estimate there were around twenty attendees at the deliberation, including a few “townies” as the State College residents were called. In contrast to our own deliberation, the professor also played a larger part by distributing the issue guide, telling everyone where the refreshments were, and during the break, passing said refreshments around, which was a little distracting from the deliberation.
However, the deliberation itself was very interesting. I think I would classify the topic as a type two problem since we were deliberating in order to improve the drinking policies at Penn State, which dealt heavily with the values of various people.
First and foremost, we discussed the policies in place at Penn State in Approach One, which included on and off campus policies as well as medical amnesty policies. There was a general consensus that medical amnesty laws were effective and someone mentioned that some states were expanding that policy to also protect the student in the medical emergency so the student who calls does not face backlash from that student or others for calling authorities, which most agreed was a worthwhile addition to the Amnesty laws. As mentioned before, most of the attendees agreed that students would drink off campus no matter what the Pennsylvania Laws said. On campus, they thought it would be better if the RAs were a little more lenient to students who have alcohols in their rooms if they aren’t bothering others in the hall since it is easier help students who drink and have an emergency in the dorms than those who must go off campus for a drink.
This led seamlessly to Approach Two, which regarded the enforcement of the drinking policy on campus. Many attendees shared stories about how their RAs approached drinking in the dorms, which revealed the disparity between RAs. Some only told their students to put the drinks away while others reported the students to housing. This led to a conversation about trust and most of the attendees agreed that they would trust a laid-back RA more than an uptight one for various issues they may have, such as drinking. Within this approach, we agreed that the NSO teams and other students guides should information about drinking that is objective and keeps students safe, but should not cross the line and become subjective and encourage students to go drink.
Finally, the third approach was about Penn State’s reputation as a party school and how to overcome this stigma. Most of the attendees agree that moderating social media and taking down posts that showed PSU students drinking would be too cumbersome and not very effective. Instead, emphasizing the academic, sports, and research achievements at Penn State on social media would be a better method of changing the reputation since it would show prospective students and the general public that there’s more to Penn State than just drinking
All in all, I thought the deliberation was successful in its goal to discuss various changes in policies to make drinking safer and it was also enjoyable to listen to the various stories and opinions shared by the attendees, as well as see the professor’s face in response to the stories about all the drinking mayhem that occurs at Penn State.