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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Red-tag intrusion the wrong solution

    The red-tag ordinance evidently isn’t enough. Under a new plan designed to curb off-campus parties, students who receive red-tag citations from the police will have another authority to answer to: the Dean of Students Office.

    This week, UA officials are hard at work drafting exactly what their involvement will be in the mistakes students make off campus. In an extension of the dean of students’ off-campus code of conduct, the university would punish students who are branded with the scarlet square – the red tag. After a red-tag citation, students would meet with campus officials to discuss punishments, which could vary from diversion classes to community service.

    The sentiment behind this intrusion is understandable. In the interest of establishing the UA as a good neighbor to the Tucson community, the Dean of Students Office wants to ensure that individual UA students are good neighbors. The problem here is that there is already an authority that deals with students’ off-campus behavior: the Tucson Police Department.

    Involving UA administration will take resources away from the UA’s mission to educate and provide students with the intellectual tools to succeed in the real world and redirect them toward baby-sitting students who are apparently disrupting surrounding neighborhoods. These bad neighbors deserve the consequences administered by the Tucson police for their disruptive behavior. Our university administrators have other things to do.

    Tucson’s red-tag ordinances are already notoriously strict. Every resident home at the time of an unruly gathering is charged $100, and punishments and fines increase steeply for repeat violations. If these ordinances aren’t preventing rowdy off-campus gatherings from disturbing neighbors, maybe they need to be retooled. The red-tag ordinances are also presently a source of conflict – neighborhood associations praise their efficacy in quelling parties, but others are critical of the broad definition given to “”unruly gathering”” in the law, suggesting that it could apply to nearly any student gathering. These ordinances must be improved before they are instated as the bedrock of a new campus disciplinary policy.

    A secondary concern is the fact that having university officials responsible for the repercussions of students’ off-campus bad behavior may have the unintended consequence of sending the message that their mistakes are peccadilloes – part of student life. If the city and university want to get serious about this problem, then the proper approach is to develop effective police intervention, not to create a tangled web of responsibility.

    Though conceived with the best of intentions, this plan is a mistake. It shortchanges Tucson police, who should have autonomy in their authority for off-campus behavior problems. It shortchanges UA administrators, who should be able to devote their limited time and resources to more pressing issues. It shortchanges UA students – both those who will face undue intrusion into their off-campus behavior and those who will deal with the frustrating knowledge that their tuition dollars go to pay for baby-sitting misbehaving students.

    Let’s leave off-campus behavior in the hands of off-campus authorities.


    Opinions are determined by the Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Nina Conrad, Lori Foley, Ryan Johnson, Ari Lerner, Nicole Santa Cruz and Matt Stone.

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