Are there lots of people in law school who are under 21? Are there lots of people in law school who can’t give legal consent for taking out hundreds of thousands in student loan money? Are there lots of people in law school who should have to ask for a hall pass before they go take a leak? Not many? Then maybe law students should be allowed to congregate and have a freaking beer without the administration threatening them with sanctions. Maybe the law school’s policies regarding alcohol at student functions should be a little bit different than the policy of the undergraduate school. Maybe a group of legal educators should be able to DISTINGUISH between a law student and a college freshman.
A law school has come up with a set of embarrassing and ludicrous alcohol-related policies, and now it’s threatening students who try to work around them…
Earlier this week, tipsters sent in a message from the SBA at George Washington University Law School. It’s hard to explain how stupid GW is being here until you read it:
For those of you who may not know, the GW Center for Alcohol and other Drug Education (CADE) oversees all events with alcohol hosted by GW student groups. This office is part of the overall university; it is not an office within law school. CADE is responsible for developing and overseeing the policies governing events hosted by student groups that have alcohol. Last semester, the CADE office revised its master policy governing events with alcohol. The SBA was involved with every step of the process and advocated first for an individual graduate student policy, and when it was clear that this would not be possible for policies that would allow for maximum flexibility for the organizations within the law school. Ultimately although some aspects of the policy were changed favorably for graduate students, other aspects of the policy added costs and additional planning requirements for events with alcohol.
You can check out the full SBA letter, which describes new limits on events with alcohol, on the next page.
Why would an alcohol policy set for undergraduates, many of whom are underage, be applied to law students, nearly all of whom are legally allowed to drink? That’s like not being allowed to drive because your little sister doesn’t have a license. Different things are different, and having a one-size-fits-all alcohol policy is the height of bureaucratic nonsense replacing common sense.
Apparently the GW Law SBA was in “violation” of some of these policies for children. Papers were not filed. Undergraduates got their hands on some material suggesting law students would be drinking (gasp) on Thursdays. It’s ticky-tack stuff, and it suggests that GW’s real purpose is NOT to actually deal with alcoholism or alcohol abuse by the student body, it’s to cover their ass in case the parents of a drunk teenager sue the school.
As a result of these violations, GW ordered the SBA to limit the number of events where alcohol is served. The limit (seven to ten events) effectively ends any kind of weekly law student get together (like a “bar review”), and it also means that student groups that get funding from the SBA will probably not be able to serve alcohol at their events. Again, GW Law is happy to take hundreds of thousands of dollars from these kids over three years, but GOD FORBID one of them gets their hands on a Heineken.
Fine, whatever, if students can’t use student funds to do things the students want to do, that’s GW’s own stupidity. ADULTS at GW Law can still find a way to get together at a bar once a week if they like. Soon after GW brought down these ludicrous new rules, a tipster reported that students were doing what students do:
A little more than a day after the announcement went out, I got an invite to a Facebook group “Underground Bar Review.” Went from 20 to nearly 700 members in 2 days. They’ve managed to put together the same specials the SBA was getting for this [T]hursday…, but without the SBA bar tab.
Is that not an elegant solution — creative lawyering at its best? Students organize on their own, get deals from local establishments, and go out for drinks.
Well, not only is GW against this, they’re also apparently threatening the student organizers. Tipsters report this message went up on the “underground” Facebook group from one of the organizers:
It has come to my attention that administrators both within the law school and the undergrad have become aware of this group. While I am firmly of the belief that students should and are allowed to congregate outside of school as they see fit, it has become possible that the undergraduate administration will charge me with violations of their student conduct policy. Additionally, continuing with organizing this Thursday will likely jeopardize the remaining activities we have this year including Barristers, while simultaneously leading to new sanctions for next year as well.
I believe the undergraduate administration’s response is unfair and ultimately indefensible. However, faced with this short term situation I feel the only course of action is to cancel this week’s activity. I am additionally temporarily suspending posting within the group and changing the description (it appears at this point I cannot change the group name). I intend to resolve this situation in the coming days and hopefully continue to provide organization for activities at public locations.
I was truly excited about this idea and still think it has great potential as demonstrated by how quickly we were able to organize this week. It is my hope that we are back on track soon.
I am deeply sorry to anyone who is disappointed with this decision and want to wish everyone a fun a safe Thursday night regardless of where or what the endeavor may be.
Thanks for understanding.
ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME? Where in the hell does the undergraduate administration get off threatening a law student with “sanctions” because he organized an OFF-CAMPUS event for other law students? What kind of Orwellian s**t is this? The university shouldn’t have any authority to regulate legal off-campus behavior organized through an unaffiliated Facebook page. Could a reasonable GW Law student confuse this Facebook group with the “official” school-sponsored SBA? Not bloody likely, not when the “real” SBA is busy dancing a tarantella so everybody can see how the university treats them like children at an ice-cream mixer. I feel like GW has made its school-wide Volstead Act pretty freaking clear to reasonable adults.
Shouldn’t there be a GW law professor who can step in and help the law students explain basic civil liberties to whatever power-drunk GW administrator is pushing the ball here? Can Jonathan Turley spare a second? Can John Banzhaf roll onto the Facebook group and say, “Don’t worry, I got this.”
I know that people usually don’t want to go to the mattresses over “drinking rights,” because they think that it makes them look like alcoholics. But this isn’t about IU students wanting to get s**t-faced and pin their panties to a wall (not that there’s anything wrong with that). This is about the basic right to congregate free from whatever schoolmarm GW hired to limit the choices of consenting adults.
GW shouldn’t be restricting law student funds in this manner, it shouldn’t be restricting off-campus activity in this way, and it damn well shouldn’t be threatening any grown-ass adult who gets a special deal at a bar for his friends. Hopefully, the GW Law faculty won’t leave it to the students to fight the administration alone.
(Flip to the next page to read the complete SBA message.)