All Hail: I can pee where I want

Last Friday, my roommate and I were strolling near Hemenway Street at 11 p.m., looking for a public restroom. We ran back to Smith Hall, our current residence, only to find a line of 15 people waiting to get swiped in. I was then faced with a choice: wait in the line or go elsewhere.

After weighing our options, my roommate and I took to the great outdoors, where we were approached by a plainclothes police officer. He must have been sympathetic and somewhat understanding about the lack of public facilities because he merely gave us a “warning.”

While I understand there are rules, I was taken aback by the fact that there are undercover police watching us. And the more I observed, the more obvious it was: For college students, enforcement is everywhere.

It was my impression that, as a city with an exorbitant amount of college students, Boston enforcement would be lenient toward its new residents and understand there are lots of things to see and do – most of them harmless. Obviously, I was mistaken.

When I first arrived in Boston, I heard of the “crackdowns.” There are endless stories of fake IDs taken away, parties broken up by the Boston Police Department (BPD), Northeastern students thrown into the back of “paddy wagons” and students searched by undercover police officers while innocently walking down the street.

I find this behavior offensive. What happened to innocent until proven guilty?

Recent newspaper articles highlighted the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11. Many expressed concerns about a terrorist attack here in Boston. Are people in Boston really afraid? If this is the case, why are Boston taxpayers wasting funds by having officers patrolling the streets of Northeastern when our institution has established its own police department? Is this a justified concentration of security, or an ongoing battle to control America’s youth?

One thing is apparent: funds are being wasted, and college students are being overprotected from a force none of us are even aware of.

Anyone who has ever met a college graduate from America will tell of the crazy parties, drunken nights, experimentation, etc., as if it is an accepted part of growing up. The college experience is educational, social and, in most cases, the first chance to learn responsibility.

Learning the consequences of our actions is part of this process. When a student gets into a bad situation or gets into an accident, does this mean the system has failed, that the Northeastern officers and the BPD did not do their job? Are they protecting us from our fellow classmates and ourselves, or are they simply keeping us contained?

It seems Boston is willing to invest the time and effort of its law enforcement into patrolling liquor stores, clubs and student housing in hopes of deterring students from indulging in what society has deemed “wrong.”

If the college experience is wrong, perhaps the creators and enforcers of these laws could enlighten us as to what they did during the years they attended school. I have a feeling not much has changed.

The truth is college has been and should continue to be a time for self-exploration. Yes, some of us may take this to an extreme, but not all of us. Boston has been a college town for centuries, and while it may have some negative experience from generations before ours, it is na’ve and counterproductive for law enforcement to prevent our generation from having the “college experience” we have heard so much about.

– Wes Falik is a freshman business major.

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