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A plan that goes too far

Once upon a time there was an alcohol ordinance. No one liked it very much. Some people — especially students under the age of 21 — were even afraid of it. It was a bad ordinance, as far as ordinances go. Luckily, the Borough Council realized it was a bad ordinance and tied it up with enough red tape to keep it safely trapped in the Borough's bureaucratic clutches forever.

The end.


Or at least that's how the story should have ended. But now, in the wake of two alcohol-related sexual assaults and an increase in the number of students being treated for excessive alcohol consumption, Borough Police officials are considering a crackdown at the 'Street.' We are pleased to see Borough Police taking a heightened interest in students' safety — and agree that something proactive must be done to respond to both the recent assaults and the trend toward more students being hospitalized — but the police department's good intentions are being marred by its overzealous approach.

As always, the goal is to curtail underage drinking, but this time, police are willing to use undercover officers and other no-nonsense investigation tactics to get the job done. The problem is that, in the same way the proposed alcohol ordinance intruded into the affairs of private residences like the eating clubs, this newly concocted sting operation threatens to obliterate students' privacy. Borough Police is trying to follow through on the intentions of the alcohol ordinance — without the ordinance.

Rather than simply continuing to work with the ICC to restrict underage drinking, Borough Police has suggested its own plan of action that could potentially create tension between the eating clubs and local authorities.

Though the 'Prince' does not wish to diminish the illegality of underage drinking or the dangers that come with excessive drinking, massive undercover operations at the 'Street' are not the answer. This is not "NYPD Blue" or "Law and Order." This is Princeton — a community where rather than trying to undermine each other, the police and club officers should be able to work together to ensure the public's health and safety.

Whether the University will become involved in this debate remains to be seen, but we are hopeful the administration will continue to make positive — not punitive — efforts to curb underage drinking, as it did when implementing the alcohol initiative.

There should be a happy ending to this story. Let's just hope we find it in time for Bicker and sign-ins week. In the mean time, better bring your PUID, your driver's license, your passport, your bloodtype and your mother's maiden name out to the 'Street.' Oh yeah, and don't forget your passes.