The past week's news from our flagship university, MU, reopened two issues.
I could not agree more with one of them. The other should be deposited in the landfill of bad ideas.
The first, legalizing alcohol consumption in fraternity houses by students of legal age, of course, overturns the no-alcohol policy instituted in 2003.
Although cloaked in the very best of intentions, that edict proved not only impossible to enforce but also led to unintended but predictable consequences.
Let's face it: Young people, particularly young males, are going to indulge in and experiment with alcohol when they first leave the umbrella of parental supervision.
Having been there myself, I can attest to the truth of the matter stated therein. And, with human nature relatively unchanged since Adam bit into the apple, admonishing young people that certain acts are taboo is akin to waving a red flag at a bull.
The worst of the unintended consequences of banning alcohol in fraternity houses is that it did nothing to curb either binge or underage drinking.
Instead, the ban merely relocated the imbibing to off-campus locales where party goers created dual problems: infuriating East Campus neighbors with their noisy antics and causing hazards to motorists and pedestrians by returning to quarters driving under the influence of alcohol.
The Interfraternity Council's authorization of the policy change does not indicate blanket approval of alcohol in Greek houses.
Individual fraternities must seek approval from alumni, advisers and property owners, along with maintaining appropriate academic standards, before a permit is granted. There are also restrictions on types and amounts of alcoholic beverages, e.g., no beer kegs, etc.
That there is risk in easing the rules is understood; however, the potential gains of no longer alienating neighbors with wild parties and reducing the number of drivers under the influence on our roads constitute a plus.
But, the real benefit could be realized by the actions of the over-21 fraternity members. With a real stake in the game, they should be expected to step up and police the consumption.
The second issue is the apparent intent by the MU Faculty Council to establish a "diversity course requirement" for students.
I don't really know anyone who is "anti-diversity," particularly when the diverse makeup of the student body is obvious to anyone with eyesight. Accordingly, it is disappointing that the council won't take no for an answer.
Defeated in May by vote of the general faculty, one must ask, "What has changed in student attitudes or academic necessity to revisit the establishment of a course/courses in diversity training?"
Has there been overt or increased insensitivity shown to minorities, cultural differences, religious denominations or ethnic groups?
Admittedly and inexcusably, ignorance, bigotry, racism and various other forms of intolerance of diversity will always be among us, but they are increasingly the exception rather than the rule.
No measure of legislation, ordinances, condemnations or well-intentioned programs will divest society of the narrow-minded behavior of a few highly visible and vocal moronic malcontents. There is no lesson plan for tolerance.
The creation of specific "diversity" studies or the designation of certain courses of study as satisfying the requirement for diversity training is nothing more than a "feel good" exercise in social engineering.
The curricula of our higher education facilities have already been watered down by extraneous and "nice-to-know-but-not-very-useful" courses. There comes a time to question their academic utility.
Accordingly, before embarking on a program designed to influence student behavior, the university must first determine if it is really necessary.
The next step is to determine the venue or vehicle to best accomplish the mission.
Finally, there must be a medium to measure success or failure with some accuracy.
When the answer to the first is an unconditional no, why proceed farther down the path?
J. Karl Miller retired as a colonel in the Marine Corps. He is a Columbia resident and can be reached via email at JKarlUSMC@aol.com.