Editorial: Know our limits

Posted by the Editorial Board

In the wake of this year's chaotic Moorebid Ball, members of the campus and local community have spent some time trying to assign blame for a situation that spun out of control. The campus and the press condemn causes as varied as a binge drinking culture to an overenrolled freshman class, and as ridiculous as Four Loko or as unfair as the overburdened Campus Safety officers.

But the unalterable and uncomfortable truth is that responsibility should fall to us, the college's student body, for failing to do what our roles as community-members and adults demand.

When we do not regulate ourselves, the college must do it for us. Through the coming weeks, event organizers and staff will evaluate how they police these events. They might come up with new initiatives to address how best to help dangerously inebriated students, and will probably change the procedure for searching bags and controlling student re-entry to events.

The college's resources and the nature of the campus's traditionally rowdy events guarantee these changes will be applied inconsistently and with only limited effectiveness. They encourage students to change locations, but not to change their behavior.

In a more effective move, administrators might embark on strategies intended to prevent, rather than control, dangerous student behavior. By participating in workshops and panels leading up to events associated with a heavy-drinking culture, students can recognize the signs of alcohol poisoning and know the resources available to help.

Implementing a mandatory drinking-related lecture for all entering first-years will encourage more widespread consciousness of how best to respond in situations like that at this fall's Moorebid. After four years, every member of the campus community could have a foundational understanding that can only help prevent a situation from escalating to a critical point.

Students trained in dealing with dangerous alcohol-related situations can alleviate the pressure placed on Campus Safety at these events. Interested Peer Health educators and residential advisors could attend events as paid staff, able to recognize and approach students in circumstances where Campus Safety officers might be ineffective. With uncertain punitive consequences involved in seeking assistance from Campus Safety, students might more comfortably seek help from trained peers with the specific goal of ensuring students' wellbeing.

These changes might prevent a recurrence of what happened at Moorebid Ball: the frightening number of ambulances called, the many more students who drank to dangerous excess and a general tumult that reached a point beyond what the college's staff could control.

But when students face these new policies and harsher controls, we need to remember that we do not have the right to complain. We lost that right on Oct. 30, when the event was cut short because staff realized that members of the college's student body were not going to be able to exercise the kind of basic self-control that students, as adults, should.

We have a responsibility to ourselves as individuals to see when we cross that line between what is acceptable and what is not. In moments where we see real physical risk, we have a responsibility to the college to help each other like the community we claim to be.

In the coming weeks, as the committees and task forces meet to discuss new policies to curb student drinking at events, we should feel embarrassed that the college needs to enact policies because of our failure to act in a responsible manner.

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