Two weeks ago, 56 Lehigh students were cited at an off-campus party. More than half of them were freshmen.
Those statistics might evoke a knee-jerk reaction. After all, parties happen every year without any serious problems.
“Make Lehigh great again,” and “Lehigh lives matter,” have become running jokes among cliques. This is supposed to be the best four years of your life, you think. Not every step we take should have us going to jail.
Who does someone with a badge think they are, telling you what you should and shouldn’t be allowed to do?
Those phrases are more disrespectful than they might seem. While students are out partying the night away, police officers are patrolling the streets to ensure our safety.
When they talk about the problem with parties, they aren’t worried about how much we have to pay in fines. They’re worried about our lives.
Four near-fatal incidents last semester. One hundred and forty-four days since our Lehigh community was lucky enough to avoid a student death. Six days since the Lafayette community wasn’t.
We romanticize the idea of the college parties we always heard about growing up, but realistically, they aren’t representative of our drinking culture today.
Beer from our parents’ college years has turned into liquor and grain. People blow .2 or .3 as if it’s a badge of honor.
Going out to drink and socialize has turned into a game of, “How plastered can I get and still make it home?”
Maybe we weren’t prepared for this, but it doesn’t excuse students from a responsibility to their friends and peers. There’s a disconnect between our drinking habits and our humanity.
We have a problem with common decency.
Yes, the administration needs to improve our medical amnesty policy. Whether or not you get in trouble for helping someone who needs it is too vague.
Does that mean you should risk someone else’s life to avoid a citation? Absolutely not.
We see someone struggling down a flight of stairs, legs wobbly, eyes glassy — it’s an issue when we search for the quickest exit instead of acknowledging that something is very wrong.
There’s a good chance you’ve heard of someone having their own staircase moment. Maybe you were even there.
“I’ll be fine,” they say as they take their first two shots of the night. “We’ll only have two more,” you hear them say minutes later.
Years later, while reminiscing with a group of friends, you remember that night. After a dramatic retelling of how many stairs they hit on the way down, you begin laughing.
But if someone were to listen closely enough, they would hear the laughter quickly fade. Familiar names come to mind — those whose stories had a different ending.
Timothy Piazza, Penn State.
McCrae Williams, Lafayette.
Unspeakable thoughts of what could have been.
These aren’t just names in a news article. Either one of them could be someone walking down Packer Avenue, sunglasses hiding the night they just woke up from.
A student waking up to realize they threw up on a friend during the night. A harmless visit to a friend’s school ending in a fight, an emergency room visit and scars from a drunkenly ripped-out IV. Parents frantically searching a city’s hospitals, unaware their child was undergoing a sexual abuse examination while blacked out.
These are real stories from Lehigh students. All are alive today because someone called. Because someone cared.
Penn State students have to deal with the alternative. Nobody called for help while Timothy Piazza sat on a tattered couch, clearly traumatized and injured, while he desperately attempted to get out of the house. Nobody called until he was face down at the bottom of a basement staircase.
The college experience of Lafayette students, particularly freshmen, is forever tainted. McCrae Williams will always be in the back of their, and our, minds — an unbreakable connection reminding us of our responsibility to keep each other safe.
Don’t let this happen to you. Don’t let this happen to others.
If you think a situation is wrong, call it like you see it, no matter what others think. Call the police. Call anyone.
Call, call, call, call, call.