Do not blame party hosts

Students should not be liable for another’s decision to drink.

Two University students are facing possible imprisonment after a student attended a party of theirs in April and died the same night. Kyle Sharbonno, who was 20 years old and a first-year student at the University last spring, was intoxicated from alcohol he drank at the house when he fell to his death off the Oak Street parking ramp. The two party hosts are being charged with a felony of “furnishing alcoholic beverages to a minor resulting in a death” and face up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

This unfortunate tragedy for Sharbonno’s family and friends is a reality check for the University community. Alcohol-related deaths such as this are avoidable and should teach us about the dangers of excess and impaired judgment. It’s difficult to place the blame, but we don’t believe it should fall on the shoulders of the two students who hosted the party.

The city of Chaska recently passed legislation that holds party hosts liable for underage drinkers. This law places harsh penalties on a problem that is cultural and should be corrected through education. Blaming party hosts will not extinguish the problem – it will push underage drinkers into more dangerous locales.

If everyone who has provided alcohol at a party where a minor was present faced legal penalties, most students would be in a world of trouble. Furthermore, students who host parties aren’t always the ones providing the alcohol, and in most cases party-goers tend to drink in various locations throughout a single night. Or perhaps the minor is drinking unbeknownst to the hosts.

With these gray areas, there is no way to hold every person who came in contact with Sharbonno that night or provided him a drink accountable, aiding in his intoxication. An adult over 18 years old makes his or her own choices when it comes to drinking and knowing his or her personal limits. It ultimately comes down to personal responsibility.

The hosts might have used poor judgment that night, but two more lives shouldn’t be added to the list of young futures lost due to unfortunate mistakes.