While I agree with the perspective in last week’s editorial, “Tipsy Penalties,” that violations of the underage drinking and marijuana policies should have comparable judicial outcomes, I was disappointed that lowering the penalties for marijuana use was the proposed method for aligning them. The editorial derides the current judicial penalties for underage drinking as “a slap on the wrist.” By arguing for a similar response to marijuana cases, it suggests a motivation not of promoting student health, but of avoiding personal responsibility for behavior choices in an already generous system.
To cite “contradicting societal norms” as the argument for not increasing alcohol sanctions is comical. American society’s current judgment on both underage drinking and marijuana use is criminalization, a far cry from the permissiveness of that society’s college subset. Ithaca students who engage in either behavior should appreciate its educationally focused, multiple-chance judicial system, rather than longing to live under true societal norms, which would respond to their first offense with legal action.
If campus initiatives that are currently seeking to change outcomes for substance-use violations wish to be taken seriously, they must recognize that constantly advocating for less personal responsibility is a troubling trend. It casts those involved as representing no philosophy, ideal or moral system beyond not wanting to get in trouble for their own voluntary choices, and no honest conversation about the issue can originate from that viewpoint.
Andrew Kosinuk ’06