I’m a third-year Community Advisor at Castleton and it’s safe to say that I’ve seen my fair share of oddities and extreme circumstances. Weapons pulled over video game disputes, bodily fluids in Dixie cups, and head wounds that look like something out of a horror movie have been a few memorable moments on the job.
Thankfully, these incidents tend to be few and far between rather than the run-of-the-mill violations, which tend to be, and always have been mostly, alcohol-related.
While of course these incidents often do reach a severity that cannot be overlooked (including issues of legality verses illegality), it would be a lie to say that the Residence Life staff doesn’t know and expect that drinking is apart of college life.
I’m not saying that any of us condone illegal or excessive drinking, but from a preparation standpoint, that’s the one thing that tends not to shock us.
Typically, college students who drink are all-too familiar with the possible negative side-effects of drinking: debilitating hangovers, freaky blackouts, and the “what exactly did I do last night?” question the next morning.
But sometimes, things take a scarier twist when the buzz kill of all buzz kills happens: suddenly, a fellow party-goer or friend, whether they be a first time drinker or not, stops responding.
Now, I understand that much to my and my co-workers’ disappointment, most on-campus residents see us CA’s as nothing but master-key-wielding menaces out to wreck their good time and exercise our insatiable need for power (rather than fellow students who take the appropriate measures to keeping campus safe and livable).
Maybe it’s because often times the bad outweighs the good, so the incident reports and the letters and the sanctions stand out above the programs and the friendly chats and the support, and in a way, I see why that’s so.
But as a staff, our number one goal is to make it clear that in the event of an emergency, personal or otherwise, we want our residents to trust us with whatever is going on rather than fear that they are getting in trouble.
Leave it to the police department to undercut our efforts.
It recently came to my attention that it is often common practice for the police department to issue drinking tickets or alcohol diversion to underage students who call the police in the event of an alcohol-related medical emergency.
Now, I understand that there is once again a legality issue and a protocol to follow, but I also have gained clarity as to why so many people write off their dangerously intoxicated friends as “fine” as opposed to seeking help or why students agonize for quite some time before calling in help.
I think it’s very safe to say that in any circumstance, a friend’s health is worth any minor (or major) legal trouble regardless, but that can’t always be rationalized, especially in a time of drunken panic. How are we supposed to improve the efficiency of students getting help from their friends when they’re so afraid of the consequences that they opt for the less wise decision?
It’s a catch-22 to say the least. I understand all sides of the issue as I’ve faced similar ones in the CA job, but I tend to lean more toward the side of the primary focus being personal health and safety.
Maybe I’m wrong, but I think the prospective fear of possibly losing a friend’s life after a night of drinking gone wrong is enough to curb some behaviors on its own.
I guess I ask to any and all residents who may find themselves in a similar situation to understand that Public Safety and Residence Life aren’t out to get you.
As much as I wish we could, we can’t guarantee that you won’t face any legal trouble for drinking illegally or excessively, but I hope that everyone realizes that a drinking ticket will leave a far less severe impact than a life lost.