Wabash graduate and now attorney Dustin DeNeal ‘04 discussed not only the legal consequences of alcohol, but also discussed the Gentleman’s Rule in relation to the law.
DeNeal started his WAR Council talk with a disclaimer on his background being mostly in business restructure and bankruptcy work. Yet he expressed his interest of law dealing with alcohol, establishing his experience with educational/ institutional liability as opposed to day to day cases dealing with alcohol.
He went over the laws in Indiana and went over some hypothetical situations and the outcomes in court. DeNeal also talked about the liability of a college or fraternity and how it has changed in the last century.
"Up until late 70s and late 80s colleges operated on "in loco parentis" , which meant the colleges took place of the parents. But in late 70s and 80s a growing sense that 18-22 year olds were responsible enough for their own actions, so "in loco parentis" was gone. He explained that "each person is their own person, and the college is not in place of parents."
A law that was surprising to DeNeal and students was the Indiana Law dealing with illegal possession of alcohol. The law states, "It is a Class C Misdemeanor for a minor to knowingly (1) possess an alcoholic beverage, (2) consume it, (3) transport it on a public highway when not accompanied by at least one parent or legal guardian." Deneal gave an example for the law with a situation from his time at Wabash. " I know several times when I was here at Wabash doing a beer run , as an underage guy, driving guys to pick up beer. I could have gotten pulled over."
Questions brought the heart of discussion relating to the Gentleman’s Rule, the law, and Wabash in the past decade. A student sparked a light in the past when he asked DeNeal about the drinking scene when he attended Wabash.
"I think the drinking is probably the same since I’ve been here, but the awareness and the discussion is a lot more than we ever talked about. So it’s at least a step in the right direction." Deneal said. "I didn’t drink until I turned 21, that was a personal decision, and I was never forced to drink and it wasn’t an issue at all for me. I know people that felt pressured to drink and I know there was a lot of drinking going on campus and is still going on today."
Deneal also talked about alcohol and being a student athlete. "The campus changed completely from my freshman year to my sophomore year, part of that was 6 a.m. workouts for football. Prior to six a.m. workouts there was a lot more drinking during the week. After that the guys just couldn’t drink during the week and function, so they skipped the drinking."
He also explained his new angle on the Gentleman’s Rule since attending IU Bloomington where the Gentleman’s Rule was nonexistent. "Going to IU made me realize how special it is here at Wabash to have a rule that is not only individualist and applies to each and every person taking responsibility for one’s actions; but it can also be collective rule where one chooses to take responsibility for others."
He went further to talk about drinking at IU compared to Wabash, "I learned that at IU it’s (drinking) taken for granted that it’s going to happen, but here there is information to prevent it. It’s more of an outrage here(Wabash) when an incident occurs because it’s a smaller school, and when it happens it shouldn’t have happen."
DeNeal’s most influential words were on the Gentleman’s rule as he sees it. "At Wabash, The Gentleman’s Rule can be more of a collective rule. To me the Gentleman’s rule is asking yourself three questions before you make a decision, How will this affect my family? How will this affect my team? How will this affect me?"
The talk was the second WAR council 6-pack talk, with four more talks upcoming. Jacob Surface, president of Theta Delta Chi and member of the WAR Council, hopes the speeches will affect those who come.
"It depends on the mindset people come in the speeches with, just come in with an open mind and look to gain some knowledge if nothing else to save your butt in a bad circumstance," Surface said. "Hopefully, people will change the way they think about use of alcohol on college campuses, but if nothing else gain some knowledge just by coming out to the hear the speaker. Having a Wabash alum is really important because you can get an idea of how Wabash has changed, and how the alum’s idea might have changed through the years after Wabash."
Junior Patrick Griffith thought the talk was effective. "I think he presented himself well, he was trying to be conscious to bring new information so the students who attend the talks week to week don’t hear the same information. It was in a nice outline format, which is at times what a Wabash student needs. I’m sure students will at least reconsider or look again at their ideas on alcohol, because he made a parallel with the Gentleman’s rule and Indiana State Law."
Athletic Trainer and WAR Council Advisor Mark Colston and Surface want to stress WAR is not trying to make Wabash College a completely dry campus. Students will not be persecuted or lectured when attending the 6-pack talks. The format of the talk is more a relaxed, laid back town hall style discussion.
"I know when I was here at Wabash we didn’t really pay attention to what the law generally was, so that’s why it’s good to have speeches like this and for campus leaders to know the law," DeNeal agreed. "You look at yourself as isolated and immune here at Wabash. So it’s good to know what the Indiana State Laws are."