Negative outcomes show need for police

Each year we hear of students encountering tragic consequences following partying.

The death last spring of a student who fell from a parking ramp after overconsuming alcohol is a tragic event. It is also sad that two other University students now face legal charges associated with providing alcohol to the underage student. The situation raises some very important issues.

Each year we hear of students encountering tragic consequences following a night of partying – becoming victims of crime, wandering into a river or falling to their death. These events underscore why states have enacted laws that make providing alcohol to minors illegal and punishable. In this case, it appears the hosts were selling alcohol to attendees. We are aware, unfortunately, that parties of this nature are often held in our neighboring communities to help the hosts raise money to pay their rent or meet other expenses. When people make the decision to break the law, they must also be willing to accept the risks and consequences associated with that decision. As the Daily editorial stated, “it ultimately comes down to personal responsibility.”

In addition to personal responsibility, there is the issue of community responsibility. Data from Boynton Health Service, the Aurora Center and University police reveal there are thousands of unfortunate outcomes related to alcohol overconsumption each year – driving under the influence, being taken advantage of sexually, being hurt and injuring oneself or others.

We also hear students complain that our police should be doing “more important things” than breaking up unruly, unlawful house parties. This recent student death and the thousands of other negative outcomes, unfortunately, indicate why party patrols and other enforcement measures are necessary. Not only do they help maintain the livability of our neighborhoods, they intervene in situations where alcohol is undermining the ability of individuals to make good decisions.

It would certainly be preferable if everyone acted responsibly all the time, but when people make poor decisions regarding drinking or providing alcohol to others, they must recognize that there might be serious consequences.

Finally, I would underscore a point raised in Biren Desai’s letter about the student’s death – if you do go out partying, please look out for one another. Don’t let someone who’s been drinking heavily wander off alone. I would hope this tragic situation would help us all remember this simple advice.

Jerry Rinehart is the University vice provost for student affairs. Please send comments to [email protected]