Wiz Khalifa tells us we’re young, wild and free, and we are. In college, especially, we get to experience much of what’s great about being young — we have few responsibilities or commitments, we’re surrounded by friends, and we live in a city that doesn’t sleep. At the beginning of a new school year, when there are tons of parties and the schoolwork hasn’t had a chance to pile up too high, it’s even easier to get too caught up in the fun. Kinara Patel, a sophomore studying at Villanova University, was found dead in her residence hall room Aug. 29. The medical examiner reported this week that it was alcohol poisoning that killed her. She’s one of many in recent years who have gotten carried away and have suffered serious consequences.
We all know how liberating college is. It’s your first time away from home, with no parents around to ask you why you’re coming home at midnight or telling you when to go to bed. The freedom that comes with college provides you with a series of lessons and trains you to be prepared for the real world. Unfortunately, several new kids on the block see this newfound freedom not as a chance to mature but as a chance to party, drink and repeat. It’s impossible to tell freshmen not to drink and realistically expect them to comply — it’s part of the college experience. What we can ask freshmen to do, however, is make smart decisions while consuming alcohol. College students, and people in general, seem to think “it will never happen to me.” It could happen to anyone, and we bet that Patel had no idea her life could end that night, when she just planned on having a good time. Just keep in mind what your body’s limits are. Don’t push yourself to drink one more cup because your friends are pressuring you or because you want to be the life of the party. That last cup could put you in serious danger. Your life is simply not worth being considered “cool” by people who probably aren’t going to remember you or the party the next morning.
Learning your limits, in all kinds of ways, not just your physical limits, is an important part of maturation. If you’re going to drink, do so in a safe environment with friends you trust and who do not make you feel peer pressured. If you start to feel uncomfortable or out of control, do not continue to drink. Be wary of going to parties where beverages like “jungle juice” or other mixed drinks you did not make are served. Not knowing the alcohol content of your drink could easily lead you to exceed your personal limit. Additionally, never let a stranger get you a drink at a party. They could easily slip something into it without your knowledge, be it additional alcohol or a drug, which could lead to even more sickness and put your safety at risk.
Drinking until you are putting yourself in danger, blacking out or getting sick is never cool, let alone safe. It may seem like partying hard is the cool thing to do, but in the end it is never worth it to put yourself on the line for a good time. When you drink too much you put your education, your reputation, your safety and your life at risk. Think about how your loved ones would react to news of your injury or death due to an alcohol-related incident. No party is worth risking your life.
Being careful with alcohol does not stop at watching out for yourself. As you go out on weekends, you will constantly see your peers and friends getting themselves into trouble, whether it be by drinking too much or making poor decisions while under the influence. As a good citizen it is your duty to help anyone you see that may need it. That could mean calling them a cab, making sure they receive medical attention, or reporting them to the proper authorities, even if it means they get into trouble. Regardless, you could be saving their life. Also, do not forget the Student Code of Conduct’s Responsible Dragon Protocol, which “provides consideration for alternative consequences for students who, while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, responsibly report alcohol and/or other drug-related emergencies to the proper authorities for the intention of seeking medical or safety assistance for anyone in need of emergency care.” And that amnesty policy isn’t limited to incidents that occur on campus. Pennsylvania passed a similar law in 2011 that grants amnesty to underage drinkers who call to obtain medical help for a fellow drinker. In the long run, would you rather let your friend get in trouble or let your friend die?
We understand that finding your place in the Drexel community is difficult. You may feel pressured to drink in order to feel included or to feel like you need to compete with others to prove yourself. Sometimes you may feel that if you aren’t the craziest at the party, you won’t be well liked or invited to the next outing. When you feel this pressure, just remember: You can only be the life of the party if you have a life to live.