Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

The right to go Loko

November saw the Commonwealth of Massachusetts add all caffeinated alcoholic beverages to its list of banned substances, resulting in its removal from liquor store shelves from Southie to Sunderland, Mass.

This change in law will affect the way Massachusetts universities punish students caught with Four Loko, and similar beverages, on campus. Adhering to the new law would allow university officials to treat a student caught with Four Loko the same as a student caught with marijuana or cocaine.

Although the University of Massachusetts could, in theory, legally expel a student for possessing Four Loko or a similar drink, officials should practice lenience if they catch any offending students. No matter how far the law extends it would be impossible to stop determined partiers from mixing alcohol and caffeine, even if it means they have to grind up the caffeine pills and drop the powder in their raspberry Smirnoff themselves. Remember to mix thoroughly.

Under the UMass student code of conduct, the improper use or possession for the purpose of sale of any controlled substance is prohibited. However, the way a student is punished by the Hearing Boards can vary.

In compliance with the “Drug–Free Schools and Communities” Act, the University can levee heavy penalties against students who are caught using or possessing “narcotics, addictive drugs and drugs with a high potential for abuse.” This leaves a wide range of punishments available. Depending on the severity of the crime, a student can range from minor fines to termination of employment and expulsion from the University.

It is the view of the Collegian Editorial Board that the severest of punishments should be reserved for the most egregious offenses, and not for the possession of caffeinated alcoholic substances. University officials should treat students who get caught with Four Loko similarly to students caught with any other alcoholic drink, preferably a warning and a trip to Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students (BASICS).

Although Four Loko is the superstar of the alcoholic energy drink circuit, it is by no means the only player. According to an article by The Harvard Crimson, the ban in Massachusetts has been criticized for its ban of other alcoholic energy drinks which don’t cater to the same customer base.

Phusion Projects, LLC, the makers of Four Loko with its colorful cans and variety of flavors, is most at fault for the ban in Massachusetts. Their product became extremely successful by their strategic marketing to suggestible college age students. In states that haven’t banned Four Loko, liquor stores are having trouble keeping a supply on their shelves.

It would be hypocritical for a student to get in more trouble for having a Four Loko than a student who had a mixed drink of Jagermeister and Monster energy drink. Yet it’s harder to determine the contents of a mixed drink than the highly publicized contents of the notorious L.O.K.O.

The Collegian Editorial Board does not endorse the use or distribution of any alcoholic energy drinks or any similar mixed drinks. However, we do recognize the reality that these products are in high demand on campuses nationwide, including the UMass campus.

Whether it is healthy or not to drink the equivalent of six 12 ounce beers and four shots of espresso, it doesn’t matter. It’s up to the individual to decide their own drinking habits and accept responsibility for the consequence of those habits.

However, UMass officials should recognize that we are in college and some of us are bound to make stupid decisions, but that doesn’t eliminate our value as students. The University can take a strong stand against the use of these types of controlled substances without using the punishments of expulsion and employment termination.

Phusion Projects plans to remove the caffeine, guarana and taurine from its products which means that Four Loko may be on shelves in Massachusetts again in the near future. The addition of stimulants will be up to the customer.

But please don’t add any, you’ll blackout way too easy and we don’t want to be walking you home, especially considering that redhead girl has been grilling us all night.

Unsigned editorials represent the majority opinion of the Massachusetts Daily Collegian Editorial Board.

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