Letter: Policing Self-Gov

To The Editor:

We found last week’s letter to the editor (“Police, Interrupted”) from the Students for a Just Society deeply concerning. While we acknowledge that there has, in fact, been a significant increase in police presence on the College campus this year, we take issue with the concerned students’ interpretation of events, and more importantly, their naïve understanding of self-governance.

Throughout this school year, the Grinnell Police Department has been more actively patrolling the areas on and around campus. Additionally, the Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement has recently been investigating drug use on campus. It is important to note that their investigation is independent of the activities of the Grinnell Police Department and the two should not be conflated.

We agree that this increased police presence is both unfortunate and disconcerting. However, we have brought it upon ourselves. Whether you agree with the law or not, the consumption and distribution of marijuana is illegal. By choosing to consume marijuana, you are in violation of the law. If you are caught, there are consequences. The consequences for the distribution of marijuana are even more severe. The concerned students’ assertion that “the dorms at Grinnell are not areas subject to high-crime” is blatantly false. There are students dealing marijuana on campus, and the authorities have figured this out and are acting upon it.

The central tenet of self-governance is personal responsibility—that is, to take responsibility for one’s actions. Self-governance does not mean that we govern ourselves; the College campus may be a bubble, but it is not its own sovereign nation. Claiming that “police presence makes it impossible for students to engage in self-governance” is simply wrong. Students are making choices that are contrary to the law—choices that have consequences for those unfortunate few who have been caught by law enforcement officials.
Self-governance is a core value on this campus, but it seems fewer students have an understanding of what it truly means.

—Alex White ’12, Chris Dorman ’12, Wadzi Motsi ’12, Allison Wong ’12, Austin Frerick ’12, Phillip Brogdon ’12, Kathy Andersen ’13, & Raghav Malik ’13