No harm in letting ideas flow about alcohol on campus

The first step is admitting there is a problem.

Then after much consideration of opinions on campus as well as off, hearing all sides of the issue and figuring out the best course of action, UK will be ready to make a change in its alcohol policy.

Or not.

But at least officials, most notably President Eli Capilouto, have started the conversation.

Dialogue on such topics is not always easy to start, or easy to perpetuate. Many feel strongly about the issue — whether alcohol should be allowed on UK’s campus, outside of a handful of exceptions that exist already — because it affects the way they live.

Take exhibit A: the students. While many living on campus are under 21, some are of the legal age to consume alcohol. Restricting them from doing a legal act in their homes is a hard policy to argue, especially when they could drink in an off-campus apartment.

But would a policy change unintentionally lift the restrictions for minors on campus as well? Would it endanger their safety or send a message that drinking underage is OK?

“Let’s face it, students are going to drink,” 3rd District Councilwoman Diane Lawless said in Thursday’s Kernel article about UK revisiting its policy.

Whether that drinking occurs on campus or a few steps away in surrounding neighborhoods might not make much of a difference to UK’s students.

But it could affect exhibit B: the community surrounding UK. Officials said the impact drinking has on areas off campus has been a concern expressed in recent conversations, especially as UK updates its master plan. Some residents think that UK’s “dry” status pushes student drinking — and problems associated with it — into neighborhoods.

The discussion over this policy, which has been in place since 1988, likely won’t be simple, and it will involve more than the aforementioned groups. But alcohol on campus is an issue that affects UK’s students directly and that many of them care about.

So as the conversation continues, UK needs to reach out to its students especially to get input for its decision.