Clearly the doctrine of in loco parentis has not lost any followers in the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs. Over the past few days, students have been receiving a packet of information regarding the University”s policies on drug and alcohol use and abuse, sexual assault and religious-academic conflicts.

While some of the information in the packet is helpful, especially information on how to use various University services that many students probably did not know even existed, the overall tone of the packet is condescending and threatening. This was especially true with the information regarding drug and alcohol use and abuse. The packet informed students that they are expected to conform to the University community”s values regarding drug and alcohol use values that the student body as a whole played no role in making. To enforce “our” values, students were told, the University would use the Code of Student Conduct the University”s equivalent of a secret military tribunal.

These thinly-veiled threats were tempered with language indicating that “as an educational institution, we can provide a unique environment in which to learn adult and safe behaviors.” But isn”t part of being an “adult” being able to make one”s own decisions about whether to use drugs and/or alcohol without having to worry about getting kicked out of school by the University”s shadowy quasi-legal system? It is high time Vice President Harper stop acting like a middle school vice principal.

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