Making the right call

I cannot keep you from drinking- whether you are legally of age or underage. Nor does this opinion piece aspire to redefine the binge drinking culture ever present on so many college campuses across America, including our own. But I can enforce the right thing to do when things go wrong. I can tell you it is absolutely imperative for you to act quickly, decisively and morally when a life is at stake. I can rationalize to you how a police citation for underage drinking is nothing compared to the loss of life- the absence from this world of a friend, peer, classmate, teammate, son, daughter, brother, sister, significant other.

I can rationalize to you how a police citation for underage drinking is nothing compared to the loss of life.

The loss of Beta Theta Pi pledge, Penn State student, son and brother Tim Piazza was a devastating tragedy on February 4, 2017. The rapid loss of  Lafayette College lacrosse player and freshman McCrae Williams followed on September 11 and now we grieve for the loss of Louisiana State University freshman Maxwell Raymond Gruver, a Phi Delta Theta fraternity pledge, occurring on September 14.

The stories behind these losses vary substantially. Piazza’s case has been attributed to hazing and an extensive delay in calling, multiple falls and traumatic head injuries. In McCrae Williams case, District Attorney Morganelli proclaimed, “I do not see this as a Penn State case.” McCrae’s loss is also ascribed to a traumatizing head injury; however this occurred after a day drink with no hazing involvement, in which friends periodically checked up on his status. Meanwhile, the investigation behind Gruver’s death is in progress.

Whereas the mechanism behind the tragic loss of these young men vary; there is still a focal similarity- drinking in the company of others and no immediate professional medical attention. I implore upon you the simple and ethical plea to look out for one another when drinking. These events did not occur in solidarity; they occurred in the presence of others.

I concede our medical amnesty policy at Muhlenberg College is not infallible. While it offers protection from the college’s Student Alcohol Policy and Drug Use and Controlled Substance Policy, it could include an Allentown Police Department citation. This policy operates by particular guiding principles to encourage students to call in an event of an medical emergency related to drugs and/or alcohol for themselves or others, even when the student calling is under the influence.

Whether it be a close friend, an acquaintance, a sorority sister, a fraternity brother, a teammate, or a stranger you met that night- it is imperative for you to know when and who to call. I urge you to accept a fault on your record, such as underage drinking, for the preservation of a life. I cannot reiterate how essential it is to know when and how to summon emergency medical attention, to ask for help and to not delay this decision.

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