A common part of the Catholic Tradition is the consumption of alcohol.
The University of Dallas shares this trait, along with many other elements of Catholic culture.
As a result, the Office of Student Affairs (OSA) has always implemented policies to ensure the safety of all students.
Along with those policies come natural consequences for those policy violations.
In the past, when alcohol violations occur, the OSA has taken action with a policy based on monetary penalties.
This year there has been a shift toward a more restorative disciplinary process.
Jim Bogdan, resident coordinator for the east side residence halls, explained that this shift is not a large change, but rather a re-emphasis on pre-existing policies.
“The goal of the OSA has always been restorative,” Bogdan said. “We’re always hoping that the disciplinary process is educational and allows the person to understand the effects of their actions.”
A monetary fine is only one of four possible disciplinary measures.
“Restorative-specific disciplinary actions include community service … reflection papers and mandated counseling with the counseling center or off-campus partners,” Bogdan said.
“Moving forward we are starting an alcohol class, so when an individual receives their first alcohol violation they will be given a class … where they will discuss alcohol and its effects.”
Bogdan suggested that research has proven that a restorative approach has a higher likelihood of stimulating individual personal growth.
“It’s been found across the nation that fines are not effective restorative measures,” Bogdan said. “Usually, it only frustrates people, especially in my experience. The hope in the long term is that we can move away from fines and find more ways to engage a student intellectually by viewing their actions in a larger community setting.”
Bogdan was unequivocal when asked if the UD culture, which includes a long history of alcohol use, has a drinking problem.
“UD has an alcohol problem,” Bogdan said. “Alcohol is a laudable part of the Catholic historical tradition, but I do not believe there is any theological basis for excessive drinking. In fact, excessive drinking is immoral in itself because it can easily become an abusive substance. I think on this campus specifically the abuse of alcohol is conflated with enjoying that historical tradition.”
Veteran resident assistant Holden Berg has seen similar patterns.
“UD has a drinking problem. Anyone who hasn’t seen this hasn’t observed people at a rager or a party.”
Along with the history of casual drinking comes a darker history of binge drinking, said Bogdan.
“Typically, in my experience, it is the default here that people think you will drink and you will drink until you are past the control of your facilities to some degree, whether that is completely passed out or you need help walking in a straight line,” Bogdan said. “That is excluding to those who do not want to drink or who cannot drink … it keeps people from engaging at a personal level, but rather engaging at one’s own entertainment or pleasure, while near other people,” Bogdan said.
Berg said that for any change to occur, a student must take it upon themselves to correct their lifestyle.
“In my experience I have only met one student who changed their attitude towards their alcohol usage because they were drunk to the point that they never wanted to be in that state again,” Berg said. “It’s been said that if someone wants to get alcohol they will. Along those same lines, if someone wants to restore themselves, they will. It works both ways. It’s a two-way street.”
Ultimately, for a cultural change to occur, Berg believes that older students must change the way they influence younger students.
“Unless the influences across the street have strong character and advise students to not get drunk, it’s going to be a continuous cycle,” Berg said. “If those across the street help other students who are more inclined to get drunk, it’s the only way this is ever going to change. No matter what the administration says, for this problem to fix itself it must come from within the student body.”