Few will disagree that Union’s Points System is flawed and needs reform. In this article I will argue that, given the weight that points carry in terms of restricting students’ opportunities at Union, the Points System is highly ineffectual, unfair, and needs to change.
According to the Points System, “Possession or Consumption of hard liquor” is worthy of three to four points. This mainly applies to students below the age of 21.“Marijuana use and/or possession” is worthy of the same number of points.
The general premise justifying this would be that marijuana is illegal. But so is alcohol if the consumer is under 21. Is the college trying to imply that these offenses are equally bad?
Research has shown that consumption of alcohol, especially hard liquor, is far more dangerous than marijuana. Students high on marijuana pose far less of a risk to the campus community than drunk ones. Think about incidences of drunk driving, violence, vandalism and sexual assault.
These are generally associated with alcohol, not marijuana. Marijuana is associated with overconsumption of food, if anything. It is only dangerous when consumed with a large amount of alcohol, which speaks volumes about how much worse alcohol is. In terms of health, there can be no debate that hard liquor is far worse for the body than marijuana.
Shouldn’t the Points System take these factors into account, considering how worried Union’s administration is about the health of students, given the ban on tobacco (a legal substance)?
“Life safety violations” are worthy of up to four points. This sounds about right until one digs deeper into what these violations include – possession of a microwave, too many posters up on the wall, tapestries hanging adjacent to beds, etc.
Are these violations really worthy of more points than “Possession and/or consumption of wine or beer under 21” (one to two points)? Last year, a friend of mine faced a possible 4 points for having a microwave in her room.
Maybe it is a fire hazard of some sort, but it definitely does not warrant four points. She eventually got only one point, which only tells us that the college’s conduct process is good.
However, the Points System is extremely flawed and the sanctions that go along with them are even more disproportionate. But so what if a student gets points? A large number of opportunities offered to students depend on the number of points they have accumulated.
Opportunities like the Study Abroad program are only offered to students who have four points or less. My friend got one point for possessing a microwave. Let’s take a hypothetical situation where she gets documented for possessing a bottle of hard liquor and is given four points for that offense.
That leaves her with five points, making her ineligible to go abroad. In a system where every single point matters shouldn’t the Points System, at the very least, punish offenders proportionately?
I have heard many people talk about how easy it is to not get documented. It is true. It is very easy to get away with violating college policy, but that doesn’t make it acceptable that the Points System is this flawed.
Just because it does not affect most students does not mean it is okay that it seriously affects the unlucky students who get caught doing something that every college student does.
This sends the wrong message to students. It says that it is okay to violate the college’s conduct policy as long as it goes unnoticed. So instead of teaching students to, say, drink responsibly, it teaches them to drink without getting caught, which is not the same thing.
The conduct process aims to impose fair punishments for policy violations, but it is inhibited by the minimum sanctions that must be imposed in relation to a student’s accumulated points. It treats long time policy violators the same as first-timers or even responsible drug users.
For example, there are students who recreationally smoke marijuana two to three times a week and still contribute a great deal to the campus community along with maintaining high GPAs.
On the other hand, there are students who get extremely high everyday, are less motivated, and contribute very little to the community. In the eyes of the Points System, these two types of students are the same and that is unfair if not absolutely absurd.
If either of these types of students gets caught smoking, they face the same three to four points and while the conduct process may somewhat account for this, there is very little room for flexibility.
It is counterintuitive that all types of violations are evaluated on a simple one to ten points scale. Everybody knows that each student is different and each incident that is documented is unique.
Why then must we so poorly standardize the sanctions imposed on these incidents and sacrifice our sense of individuality and uniqueness by pretending that every case of policy violation is equally dangerous for the persons involved and the campus community at large?