Disappearances provide warning call for some

T By Tiffany Winter

the past few weeks have been terrifying and stressful for many students. Four Minnesota college students have been reported missing and have not been found. As sad as this is, it is also a rude awakening. All of the people missing were last seen at either a bar or a party. This is a very significant and horrifying pattern. Innocent birthday or Halloween parties have turned dangerous. Our safe college neighborhoods do not feel very safe anymore. Some actions need to be taken. People need to be more responsible while drinking and should start looking out for the safety of themselves and the people they care about.

Friends do not leave friends. A University freshman and friend of mine, Kate, attended a party with a few peers, all intoxicated. At the party, things got out of hand and Kate was dancing with guys, falling over and unaware that her friends were not around her. Time passed and her friends began to wonder about her and where she was, since they had not seen her in a while. They searched throughout the house and finally found her in the basement, dancing with a stranger in a corner. One of her loyal friends decided to take her home before anything bad happened to her. Her friend had to drag her a few blocks, picking her up when she would fall. After a long night, Kate and her friend made it back to the dorm. Kate described to me her feelings of regret and shame. She felt she had put her life in her hands and almost threw it away. I cannot help but wonder what would have happened to Kate if her friend would not have cared enough to take her back. She was one of the lucky ones who got home.

However, one should not rely on friends only; making the decision of whether to drink is everyone’s own responsibility. Deciding to drink means putting yourself in a potentially unsafe situation. Going to parties and bars puts you in an even more dangerous circumstance because there are plenty of intoxicated strangers and the potential for an out-of-control situation. According to the Be Responsible About Drinking Web site, a person with a blood alcohol level of .10 to .125 will experience significant impairment of motor coordination and loss of good judgment; speech may be slurred; balance, vision, reaction time and hearing will be impaired. The higher the blood alcohol level, the more helpless you become. In other words, a person could be kidnapped or beaten.

The fact that four college students are missing after attending parties or bars is a clear wake-up call. People of all ages need to step back and look at the big picture: One night of drunken fun is not worth the risk of losing one’s life or the life of a friend or loved one. College is partly about having fun and experiencing new things, but it’s not about jeopardizing lives. So before you take shots or drink beer, consider the situation. Is it safe? Will you be putting yourself in a bad situation by drinking? Think of the families who are missing a loved one and the horror with which they have to deal. Imagine what it would be like for your parents to get a phone call in the morning informing them you are nowhere to be found. Then think: Is it really worth it?

Tiffany Winter is a freshman majoring in marketing. Send letters to the editor to [email protected]