Administration shouldn't punish the red-tagged

Getting a red tag may say a lot about a student, like, ""Sorry, I just throw too good of a party,"" but it doesn't make them a bad student.


A recent article in the Arizona Daily Star reported on Tucson Police Department's increased emphasis on issuing red tags. This news may be terrifying enough, but students have more to worry about than the fuzz. Since 2007, UA administration has cross-checked police records with university rosters to discover students who have been issued red tags. After finding students who are issued red tags, the UA reserves the right to impose additional sanctions. The stance of the administration is that receiving a red tag shows behavior that violates the Student Code of Conduct.

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TPD Assistant Chief Brett Klein was quoted in the Star article as saying, ""If we have people calling in about loud parties and it meets those criteria, we pretty much take a zero-tolerance stance.""


Those ""criteria"" refer to Tucson city code 2684.3, the Unruly Gathering Ordinance. An unruly gathering is defined as a ""gathering of five or more persons at any private property, which causes a disturbance of the quiet enjoyment of private or public property.""


The supposed violation of Student Code of Conduct is a ""Violation of (Arizona Board of Regents) or university rules or applicable laws governing alcohol, including consumption, distribution, unauthorized sale or possession of alcoholic beverages.""


Surely, the prevalence of underage drinkers at house parties is a catalyst. The administration worries that innocent freshmen will be corrupted by upperclassmen. Many freshmen use house parties to test their limits, which doesn't always end well. Providing alcohol to minors while hosting a party is a violation of the code of conduct.


The problem is that a house full of legal drinkers can receive a red tag for playing music too loud, which is not prohibited by the code of conduct. Many students can attest that weekly football gatherings involve many more than five people. With fantasy leagues on the line, these ""parties"" can get pretty rowdy.


Students should notify their neighbors and give them contact information, especially during large gatherings, so they can alert them when they are becoming too loud. When there's a lack of communication, some people think of calling police as a first resort.


Veda Kowalski, senior associate dean of students, characterizes this policy as a chance ""To talk to (students) about … being a good neighbor."" The UA wants to keep its good standing with community, but this concern has no place being pushed upon students. Will the administration punish students for leaving their trash cans out or not picking up after their dogs?


The University has legitimate cause to exercise this authority in serious cases of conduct violations, such as students who are charged and convicted with violent crimes. Violent crimes involving students warrant an inquiry by the Dean of Students to assess whether each individual case poses a threat to the rest of the university.


Short of offenses that pose a threat to the security of the university, the administration sets a dangerous precedent.


Selectively punishing students who get a red tag is a futile attempt at imposing responsibility.


The authority of the administration should be used to advance the education and safety of students. Parties and alcohol consumption always include risk, but so does venturing down Fourth Avenue. Should the administration investigate students at Bison Witches on a Thursday night? I think not.


Violations of the Student Code of Conduct happen every day. ""Commission of any offense prohibited by state or federal law"" is prohibited conduct. By that logic, any student that speeds in a car could be subjected to additional punishment.


Last week, the Wildcat chronicled the ongoing battle between cyclists and pedestrians. Surely, at least one student has been hurt in an altercation with a bicycle or walking student. These students could be punished for ""endangering or causing physical harm to any member of the university community or oneself.""


The red-tag policy of the administration fails on two critical levels. The Unruly GatheringOrdinance is unreasonably vague and additional administrative punishment serves no educational purpose. Whether the support for such a policy is ""being a good neighbor"" or enforcing the Student Code of Conduct, the exercise of authority fails to fulfill either one. Enacting and practicing such a policy that fails to advance any constructive purpose is punishment for punishment's sake and has no place at an institution of higher learning.



— Daniel Sotelo is a political science senior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.


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