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Letter to the Editor

BY DI READERS | APRIL 19, 2010 7:30 AM

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Bogus arguments from alcohol experts

It is easy for University of Iowa officials to disrespect students. They get away with it because they are unaccountable to an electorate, yet have control of a police force and a court, making the institution akin to a medieval principality. Guess what roles the students play — serfs and gypsies.

Rather than bothering to get involved in such an uneven political contest, students just adapt. The weak ones capitulate, but the resistant ones frequently engage in antisocial behaviors that the surrounding community responds to by enacting “good-behavior laws.”

The justifications for such laws often come from university administrators in the social sciences.

Sadly, their expertise is shrouded by a political veil of self interest. An example of this is the April 16 guest column by Peter Nathan and Anne Helene Skinstad, which is reminiscent of the testimony of expert witnesses — utterly one-sided.

While the “hydraulic theory of access” to alcohol the authors is intriguing, I’d like to introduce another concept — “party riots.” As the authors have intimated, the police have “vowed” to squash house parties in Iowa City now that young adults have been forced out of the bars. This could make their “hydraulic system” explode in a “party riot.”

I hope the police will talk to fellow officers in riot-plagued college towns before rigidly enforcing this law. Being heavy-handed is one factor that leads to mass disturbances.

It astounds me that university administrators take no responsibility for creating party schools.

Maybe the time has come for the state Legislature to restructure our universities, making administrators more accountable to students.

Jon Shelness
Des Moines resident


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