Last spring The Row was put on social prohibition. Though a social ban looks good by the book in that it shows clear steps on the administration’s part in response to a number of incidents, such measures are ineffective at actually solving the problems they are designed to address.
Such bans attempt to shift students’ personal responsibility from the individual to the institution.
Trying to usurp student autonomy is not only resented by many students, but is also damaging to the reputation of the university.
By exerting authority over non-academic aspects of students’ lives, the university takes additional responsibility for incidents when they occur.
Though relinquishing attempts to control student social life might result in the proliferation of activity deemed irresponsible, it will encourage students to recognize their part in determining their own safety and their roles as representative units of the Trojan Family.
This doesn’t mean advocating the abolition of DPS or delving into the controversial realms of health care.
The issue is attempting to impose safety measures on activities and events that by their very nature are hazardous.
Walking around campus safely or returning home to an apartment just off campus under the protection of DPS is one thing.
But attempting to regulate drinking and other activities need not be in the jurisdiction of USC’s safety concerns.
Employing a kind-of sandbox philosophy, students are able to experiment and learn.
USC gives students a sort of sandbox for social experimentation: filling buckets with condoms, having numerous areas to smoke cigarettes and having a certain degree of leniency with regard to underage drinking.
A better policy would be to abandon the sandbox altogether, as pursuing middle-of-the-road approach sends mixed messages.
If USC is to encourage more liberal thought and promote more exploration and experimentation, it must also be prepared to ask students to take more personal responsibility.
Increased personal responsibility is, after all, the price of freedom.. Taking steps to control students unnecessarily while also promoting freedom and exploration puts the university in the precarious position of taking responsibility for controlling the uncontrollable.
The choice between promoting freedom or promoting conformity should be the university’s approach in addressing such issues.
Taking either of these approaches alone, however, would be rejected.
What, then, should the university do regarding the many social-related issues that arise among students?
As a university, education is a top priority and is one of the best tools parents and faculty members have to ensure the safety of students. If students are well educated about the reasons that led to last year’s social prohibition, then the university has done its part for ensuring student safety.
At that point, students would be making educated decisions, whether or not those decisions are good or bad.
It is better to be more proactive than reactive. USC doesn’t need to react to all the social ills if it believes students are making educated decisions, even if they make poor ones anyway.
A primary emphasis of the university should be to continue to provide students with the tools needed to make informed decisions.
But recognizing the areas over which the university as an institution has control over is essential to addressing any issue.
Alan Wong is a sophomore majoring in East Asian languages and cultures.