Southeast’s chapter of Young Americans for Liberty hosted a recruitment drive and petition signing against the university’s dry campus policy, which bars students from possessing or consuming alcohol on campus or at university-sponsored events unless specifically authorized.
Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), led by sophomore President Zeb Parris, is a new student group at Southeast. The national organization works to extend its mission to, “identify, educate, train and mobilize youth activists to make liberty win,” according to the YAL website.
Parris, a 20-year-old political science and French double major, believes students should be able to make their own decisions without interference from official bodies. He said he sees the university’s dry campus policy and alcohol ban as a problem that requires reevaluation.
Parris started the chapter with five friends after he disapproved of both candidates in the 2016 election and finding libertarianism as a different option. He said the existence of Democrat and Republican organizations on campus pushed him to start the Southeast Missouri chapter.
Though most members of YAL at Southeast are under the legal drinking age, Parris said the cause was bigger than himself.
“[Members of YAL] wouldn’t necessarily benefit from this cause being passed through, but it’s something to look forward to, and I’m doing right by everyone else,” Parris said.
According to Parris, authorized dormitories are a model utilized by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and they have not reported a spike in alcohol-related incidents. He also said students shouldn’t face disciplinary action for being intoxicated, so long as they are of legal drinking age.
The club’s stance is restricting alcohol everywhere on campus doesn’t deter alcohol-related incidents. According to Parris, they do not agree with carrying open containers of alcohol on campus, however, they do believe in dorm separation by age.
YAL proposed alcohol should be allowed in dorms designated for those 21 and older.
“We just want people to be able to relax in their own homes without the fear of getting kicked out, fined or even thrown in the drunk tank for being intoxicated,” Parris said.
The punishment for a first-time violation of Southeast's campus restrictions on alcohol will land a student in Substance Awareness Prevention and Education (SAPE) services, as mandated by the Office of Student Conduct.
The “Alcohol Resources” area of the university’s SAPE website said, “At Southeast we expect our students to use alcohol responsibly and to avoid driving if they are impaired.”
Parris believes individual responsibility is the solution for most of the problems that stem from student intoxication. As evidence of this solution he noted the Responsible Redhawks branding, which is an initiative started by Southeast students in 2014 to educate students on their rights and responsibilities as members of the college community.
“Basically, what [the university] has to gain is they can pave the way for college students to be college students and not need a babysitter. That should be a good thing for [the university], because they can advertise a responsible student body,” Parris said.
The YAL leader stressed they don’t intend to repeal the ban entirely but only in those dorms deemed viable for students 21 and over.
“We want to eliminate the restrictions for legal adults to consume alcohol in their dorms. [The ban] is infringing on the rights of legal adults and students to do what they want to in their own homes and take responsibility for their own actions,” Parris said.
The organization collected 169 signatures on its petition and intends to have an event next month to benefit homeless veterans.
Apart from the Board of Regents’ Sept. 20 decision to allow the sale of alcohol at home games, the university has not made any official attempts to revise its alcohol policy or repeal the dry campus restrictions.