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UND students for the first time in years may push to relax the drinking policies on campus.

A small group of student leaders plans to go to the state Board of Higher Education in January with a proposal to allow drinking by 21-year-olds in the dorms.

The state board banned booze in the dorms a decade ago, rather than continue limited drinking at selected sites.

UND student Vice President Mark Berg said, "If we can convince the administration we have a plan that promotes both education and responsible decision making, I think we'll be able to do something with it." The campus newspaper, the Dakota Student, gave the idea front-page coverage this week.

A residence hall assistant at Walsh Hall Berg believes drug education can be designed in the dorms to help students make good choices.

"I recognize there's alcohol abuse, and students often don't make responsible decisions when it comes to drinking. Yet I think it's better to deal with the issue straight on, with our eyes open, rather than saying, `"It's too difficult to deal with, let's just let it alone.'"

Berg also pointed out, "Individuals who are 21 or over in the residence halls are just as responsible as people living in university apartments or university-owned housing."

While drinking in the dorms has been banned since 1981, alcohol still is permitted in the 900 or so university apartment units.

Housing Director Terry Webb said UND during the 1970s had success with a limited drinking policy for older students at Hancock Hall. But after his office and student groups recommended extending that policy to more dorms, the higher education board decided to make all residence halls dry.

Webb welcomes another good hard look at UND alcohol policies.

But he says national reports suggest college with the toughest rules have the fewest problems with alcohol related vandalism and other abuse.

Chris Lennon, UND coordinator of substance abuse prevention, said she's seen statistics showing 78 percent of the nation's campuses are "wet," but the trend is to be dry. She said the majority of campuses are tightening up on drinking.

Lennon noted that most problems are with young students experimenting with alcohol, and not student who are 21 or over.

Student leader Berg estimated one-fifth of students in the dorms are of legal drinking age.

Lennon said she welcomes a debate on campus alcohol policies. "Whatever gets people talking about alcohol and its possible abuse and low risk ways of using it, that's great."

Reference: Grand Forks Herald Nov 5, 1992