"It's Time To Make Your Mother Proud"
As an American, I am always on the lookout for a quick buck. Get rich quick schemes are a dime a dozen, and if I could just get a dime for each dozen I've tried, I'd ... probably still be just as poor as I am now. I was wandering around my room, dejected, when I remembered that idiot who spilled coffee on her lap and won millions of dollars.
"Yes! Frivolous lawsuits are the answer!" I yelled to myself, before I was interrupted by that ever-present internal maternal monologue that everyone has: "You're an adult now, Casey, you have to take responsibility for your actions. Don't blame your problems on anyone else." Blast. Thanks for ruining my fun, Mom.
But that doesn't stop me from noticing things I could sue someone over.
As I embark on my daily trek to classes, I often pause to note the various dangers we students face every day - the Green Line; that ridiculous intersection between Commonwealth Avenue and Brookline Avenue; the $5 cups of soup at the GSU. These are dangers that the overlords on the Boston University Board of Trustees could do something about if they wanted to, but because they wear their callous disregard for their students on their gold fiber sleeves, they don't. Right?
Well, the reason is probably more because they really don't have any obligation to. Boston University may be one of the largest private landowners in the city, but that doesn't mean they're responsible for everything that goes awry here. Some people among us would beg to differ, though - people named "a former Boston University Student," the same one who has threatened to file a $1.4 million lawsuit against our proud pillar of academia.
This former student claims she was sexually assaulted and that's what you'd think her threatened lawsuit would be about - but it's not just about that. This is probably because both the Boston University Police Department and the Boston University Office of Judicial Affairs did not sanction anyone for sexual assault, according to articles in both The Daily Free Press and the Boston Metro. The victim was suspended from the University, forced to withdraw from classes and leave the University for drinking and sexual harassment. Her suspension is under appeal.
The former student's lawyer is threatening to sue BU for not thoroughly investigating the alleged sexual assault. Also, he's charging that BU is negligent because it fails to control underage drinking in a dormitory and is threatening to sue over the way the case was handled. So, parties that should be focusing primarily on rape, are now focusing on BU's "negligent alcohol policy," as stated in a letter from Corcoran, FitzGerald and Hennessy, based in Milton.
This is the same negligent policy that allows BU to overstep the bounds of civil liberties to search students' rooms, the same policy that sent one of my friends to perform community service along the side of roads for having some beer in his backpack and the same policy that booted this alleged victim from Claflin Hall.
This policy isn't negligent. If anything, it's gone beyond the realm of considerate utility.
Am I a fan of this alcohol policy? Absolutely not. And it's not just because I enjoy the occasional responsibly imbibed snifter when I look out of my floor-to-ceiling windows in my smoking jacket, it's because - if anything - the policy is much too harsh. It's the legal equivalent of a cranky, gray-suited vice principal - even though it may tend to be a bit hard-nosed sometimes, at the basest level, it's looking out for us students. And like a vice principal, this policy will also send a note home to our parents whenever we get caught doing something wrong. Remember the last time that happened? You probably can't, because it was in third grade.
Although the alcohol policy is a little over the top and probably unconstitutional, it's a rule nonetheless, and by attending Boston University - a private organization - you agree to adhere to its rules and to suffer its punishments for breaking those rules, however asinine they may be. We're not sure what happened later in the evening, but we do know this nameless former student broke the rules when she consummed alcohol into the dorm and deserved to be punished accordingly for doing so - regardless of what happened after the alcohol was served. The student's lawyer said, "If Boston University had maintained the sort of environment it should, this sex assault would never have happened." Yeah, and if a butterfly in Brazil didn't flap its wings, Stalin would have been a much nicer guy. Perhaps if your client chose to abide by the so-called "negligent" policy, she'd still be living on campus. It is not the alcohol policy's fault that the student chose to disregard it.
We come to college to learn how to function in the "real world." It's not BU's job to force its students not to drink while underage - it's a rule of the school and a federal law, and this student knew she was breaking both. If the alleged victim was indeed assaulted, she should file charges against her assailant, not the owner of the building it took place in.
Sexual assault is a terrible thing, but attacking BU's alcohol policy is saying that peoples' actions are reducible to the number of screwdrivers they drank, which belittles both the alleged crime and relieves the attacker of moral liability for his actions. You've taken responsibility for the alcohol, now make the person who's responsible for the assault own up to his actions. Make your mother proud.
BONUS! A letter to the editor written by a crazy feminist about this column!
I am writing this letter in response to Casey Schreiner's column, "Make your mother proud" in the Nov. 12 issue. You begin your column with something that I thought would be rather interesting, the constant appearance of frivolous lawsuits, but then you go into the lawsuit of a former Boston University student who is suing the University because she feels as if the University did not fully investigate the events surrounding her alleged rape.
Now are you categorizing this student's case as being frivolous? Leave it to a person with a penis as his appendage to classify this rape as being frivolous. Don't you find it the least bit strange that this woman was "suspended" after the University found her in violation of the drinking rules? You mention several of your friends that were forced to do community service after they were caught with alcohol, have any of them ever been suspended? Come to think of it, do you know of anyone that has been suspended because of drinking violations? I doubt it, but you don't even question that within your article.
You continuously persecute the woman for drinking, completely agreeing with the University Board of Trustees. I think we come to college to begin thinking for ourselves. It is a shame that you have fallen victim to people like Jon Westling and John Silber who think that as long as they can get a woman to be quiet, the wheels of the University will continue to turn. Don't you realize that this "suspension" was a solution to calm talks of rape that would go around campus and the academic world, and BU does not need another case after the whole Loretto Hall incident. Unfortunately, there are many others out there like you that wish for this case to go away as quickly as possible and for everyone to focus on the fact that this woman is a drunk (even though this is farthest from the truth).
Come on people OPEN up your eyes and see that there is something going on in that room with the large desk and 12 men sitting in suits, and as long as we let these people decide that abuses of a woman's body are frivolous, it will be open season on anyone with a vagina.By Osato Ogbahon - CAS '02