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Students lack personal responsibility

Observer Viewpoint | Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I believe that one of the great tragedies of our generation is the absence of responsibility for one’s actions. We have grown up in a society that emphasizes the importance of personal choice, but is reluctant to hold people accountable for their choices. We have grown up in a society where parents will purchase another sports car for their 16-year-old child after he or she totals the first one; where adults will not only overlook but will facilitate underage drinking by high school students; where kids can get paid for A’s but grounding students for failing classes is no longer in vogue.

Of course, this is not the case in every instance; many of us have been blessed to grow up in families that have taught us the importance of taking responsibility for one’s decisions. But for much of our generation, excuses, and not consequences, are the preferred reaction to mistakes.

Last week (“Mixed Messages”, Sept. 23), a letter by Brian Strickland suggested that the University was failing its students through its “collaboration with law enforcement agencies” that enforce the law (hence, their name) by arresting students who break said law. If any student on this campus is unaware that it is illegal to drink alcohol under the age of 21, then the admissions office may need to review its admittance standards. Assuming that this is not the case and that all of Notre Dame’s high-caliber student body is aware of this fact, I fail to understand how those that knowingly choose to break this law should be either surprised or offended when the well-known consequences of illegal actions are applied to them.

Such students can also hardly be described as “law-abiding” or in “good disciplinary standing”, as Mr. Strickland suggests; regardless of their moral character, general conduct, or any other positive quality, the fact is that they are breaking the law. This is not an argument for or against the morality of underage drinking. But to drink underage is to take a risk, and if you are caught, the consequences are well-known. To imply shock or indignation that the “good reputation” of Notre Dame students does not exempt them from the legal system is ridiculous, and indicative of our generation’s failure to take responsibility for its actions.

Nicole Burson


Lewis Hall

Sept. 28