Alcohol policies defended

As a University Health Service health educator specializing in drug and alcohol issues, I share many of the concerns expressed by Jeffrey Klein in his editorial of Oct. 20. It is critical that students speak out when they are disturbed by the alcohol abuse they observe among their peers. A small percentage of our student body continually attracts our attention due to destructive and illegal activities that often accompany alcohol intoxication. Given the illegality of any alcohol use for most of our students, UR has an obligation – actually a legal duty – to uphold the law and intervene. But “criminalizing the use of alcohol,” as Klein describes it, is an inaccurate characterization of our intervention process.

In response to student concerns, as well as my own, I began meeting several years ago with an interdisciplinary team of professionals from UHS, University Counseling Center, UR Security and the Dean of Students Office. We shared Klein’s view that students’ health and safety were paramount when dealing with substance abuse, and that we believed a drug or alcohol incident provides a unique opportunity for the students involved to learn more about themselves as well as the substances they use. In response to our recommendations, the Second Chance Program was initiated by the Dean of Students Office in the Spring of 2004. Under this program, students with a first-time drug or alcohol violation are excused from judicial sanctioning, provided that they complete an intervention protocol, which may include screening, education, counseling or a combination of all three. No judicial record or file is generated and no probation period is sanctioned, as long as the student follows through with whatever referral is deemed necessary for that particular individual. My personal experience in working with over 150 students in this program has been that many come away from the process with new insights about themselves and the substances they use, as well as strategies for making safer choices in the future. In addition to being positively received by students, the Second Chance Program has shown some promising results, as data from the first year showed a marked decrease in repeat offenders coming through the judicial system.

There is no doubt that we have a long way to go toward finding a solution to this complex public health issue. Students will always be our partners in this process. Most importantly, our approaches will have to change as new evidence-based prevention strategies are identified.

-Nancy ReynoldsUHS Health Educator

Sansky’s article misrepresents facts

In reading Eric Sansky’s article on the faults of liberal ideology, I was taken aback by the writer’s unfocused argument and illogical ranting. To begin with, Sansky sets the tone of ineptitude with his opening sentence which conveys, “why liberal thought is stupid.” Perhaps it is less stupid to open a so-called informed opinions article with simple-minded name calling, but I would disagree.

As he moves forward with his argument, Sansky criticizes Al Franken for calling for the execution of Dick Cheney and his Chief of Staff. True, Franken’s comments lacked intellectual grounding. However, Sansky suggests that Franken represents all liberals. By the same logic, one might characterize Rush Limbaugh as a representative of all conservatives. This is clearly not the case. Furthermore, he attempts to compare Franken’s remarks with the right-wing Rev. Pat Robertson’s calls for the assassination of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez. Sansky remarks, “It is not right to characterize some statements as jokes and others as cold, hard fact.” What Sansky does not acknowledge is that Franken has made his career as a comedian, while Robertson is one of the most influential religious figures in American society. While I don’t find jokes about killing people funny – mostly because killing people is not funny – Sansky fails to distinguish between the two figures he compares.

Continuing in his argument, he claims that liberals have a tendency to criticize conservative politicians while praising their own, especially former President Bill Clinton. When young Eric was all of nine-years old, Clinton received massive criticism from the left for signing the 1996 Welfare Reform Bill that gutted what social safety net was left from the New Deal. Furthermore, Clinton’s 1998 bombing of Iraq received serious criticism from liberals as a violation of human rights and a failure to utilize diplomatic processes. But these facts never appear in Sansky’s article.

Sansky concludes his article by explaining to the reader that, “the very essence of being a liberal lies in having the absolute conviction that there is one set of rules for you and another, completely different set of rules for everyone else.” I do not know how to respond to this attack. Really, I’m at a loss for words. I guess all I can do is ask Eric Sansky to never write an article again. This is not because he is conservative. In fact, I encourage educated discourse. Simply stated, this was the worst article I have ever read.

-David LadonClass of 2006



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