Increase in unofficial W.I.L.D. crackdowns will lead to hidden drinking, dangerous environments

Wash. U. students have long regarded W.I.L.D. as one of Washington University’s best party traditions. This August, the concert series received national recognition when it was named one of BuzzFeed’s “15 Insane College Parties That Will Make You Want To Transfer.” However, this year, Wash. U. appeared to be on a mission to make W.I.L.D. a mild experience.

Was there a change in the W.I.L.D. policy that students were not notified of? Parties were broken up all throughout the day of W.I.L.D., both on and off campus. Parties are broken up during W.I.L.D. every year, though rarely were those off campus being dissolved as early as 1 p.m., as some allegedly were on Friday.

This change in practice resulted in drunken students wandering aimlessly through residential areas. University emails sent to off-campus students specifically stated the importance of being considerate to neighbors. Removing drunken students from a private party and sending them out into the neighborhood is exactly what the University wanted to avoid.

Besides, a sizable chunk of Wash. U. students are over the legal drinking age, and there is no reason that these students should be penalized simply because the Washington University Police Department and area police are trying to shut down every W.I.L.D. party they see.

Not only is the University’s enforcement of this year’s W.I.L.D. disparate from its enforcement of past W.I.L.D.s, but it is also counter to the understood alcohol policy that students are familiar with. Though the University’s official alcohol policy is that students not yet 21 can’t consume alcohol because it is illegal, the “unofficial” University policy stresses that students are adults and can make their own decisions about drinking as long as they are being responsible.

Additionally, Wash. U. is making it harder for students to engage in responsible parties on the day of W.I.L.D. by not allowing those living in Residential Life housing to register parties the weekend of W.I.L.D., though this policy isn’t specific to this year. This policy forces students to throw “unapproved” parties if they wish to get together with their friends. It’s no secret that W.I.L.D. is the biggest campus-wide party of the semester—the University recognizes W.I.L.D. with precautions like locking the buildings around Brookings Quadrangle, sending out extra WUPD patrols and developing more rigorous residential advisor and residential college director patrols. Why, then, are students not allowed to register parties? Wouldn’t it be safer to allow students to have approved (and monitored) parties than to force them to drink illicitly if they want to party?

While the crackdown is an attempt to make W.I.L.D. safer for students, the reality is that the University’s recent actions will only spawn more hidden and unapproved parties and drinking, resulting in a more dangerous W.I.L.D. environment.

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