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Our reputation: a sober reality

Megan Rybarczyk | Friday, March 23, 2007

Eight. Four. One.

Initially, it seems as if you might have fallen asleep and are dreaming that your math professor is asking you to write out answers to a series (if only math problems here were that easy).

Unfortunately, that is not the case, and this bad dream is actually a nightmare. Eight is the number of students (to the best of my knowledge) who paid their respects to the Emergency Room in a local hospital last semester in one night due to intoxication. Four is the number of times I nearly stepped in vomit on various sidewalks on campus one Sunday morning a few weeks ago. And one? One is a number I hope we can avoid.

I recently had two discussions, one with a local health care employee who works in the emergency room where I volunteer on Saturday mornings and one with an alumnus of the university. Like any other student, I was proud to say that I am attending Notre Dame. Unfortunately, while I was expecting the usual congratulations and admiration, what I received may have been likened to disgust and disappointment. I would like to say that I was shocked to learn of our notoriety on account of the extracurricular activities on campus, but after volunteering in that particular Emergency Room for a third semester, I was not. Employees at this particular facility strongly dislike (I believe the word “hate” was actually used …) students from Notre Dame due to their frequent presence in that establishment as a result of intoxication. You know, it really is quite difficult to adequately take care of legitimately ill individuals when there are eight intoxicated students to deal with throughout the night as well.

Now that I have addressed the disgust (I will spare you my own personal disgust experienced during my Sunday morning walk), I will discuss the disappointment I encountered. My conversation with the alumnus also revealed a great deal about how we are viewed from the community. This person informed me of his disappointment of the toleration of alcohol on campus and the lack of adequate surveillance and disciplinary action for intoxication to such extremes. It disappointed him to see our reputation falling and such intelligent student make such decisions to place their lives and the lives of others at risk.

For example, when a friend told me that some alcohol that he/she had consumed was absolutely terrible and I inquired as to his/her reasons for continuing to consume it in large quantities in light of that fact, the unfulfilling response I received was, “I don’t know.”

Yes, I understand that the majority of the students here take on a great amount of stress, and, for some reason, many think that alcohol is a way to relieve stress, have fun, open up, to be more social, etc. But, what kinds of reasons are these for such dangerous extremes? Will these be adequate to explain the fate of the one?

You may say that I am exaggerating, but the odds favor this potential fate as a result of the direction in which we are heading. I have brought up the issue of our reputation, but so much more is at stake. Please be responsible and do not make me encounter the one in the Emergency Room who will never be able to answer my question, “Why?”

Megan Rybarczyk is a sophomore biological sciences major. She can be contacted at mrybarcz@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer