Anyone who knows me will know that I am the first to offer help to someone in need. I am strong in a crisis and quick to act. Maybe it's my moral compass or maybe it's my lifeguard training, but I never walk away from a potentially dangerous situation.
I realize that not everyone is like me. Many people are afraid to intervene. They are passive bystanders. From a sociological standpoint, bystander intervention breaks the accepted rules of social interaction. But bystander intervention is not the point of this article; the point is that when someone offers help, you should listen.
This weekend I saw some bad things. I was standing in a stairwell outside a party when a group of girls walked in. One of them was stumbling and had clearly had a lot to drink. My friend and I yelled up to stairs to her friends that she needed water. Their response was to continue to the party and say that she was fine.
As I was leaving this same building, I saw a guy slouched over with two friends supporting him. I went up and asked if everything was okay. I then saw that this guy was barely conscious and could not support himself. I offered to help get him away from the party so we could call EMS. Under the amnesty policy this guy and whoever placed the call would be safe. No one listened to me. The guy then threw up and eventually they took him home because they didn't want to get in trouble with the school for underage drinking.
I spent a lot of my night thinking about this guy. Wondering what happened, if he was safe. Possibly this was because he threw up on my sandals several times, but it was also because I was concerned. I felt bad for not calling EMS myself, but if I'm being honest there was no way I was going to support a semi-conscious 6-foot man. I'm strong, but I'm not that strong. I was frustrated by my physical limitations. I wanted to help and make sure this kid was okay, but I had to give in and let his friends do what they thought was best.
I realize that the school year has just started and that everyone is excited to see their friends, but that does not give any excuse to binge drink and put yourself into a dangerous situation. Yes, we are young. And yes, we need to make mistakes. But those mistakes do not need to endanger our lives or the lives of our friends. Many college students would rather put their friend in a potentially lethal situation than risk getting into trouble with the school or the police.
That is not okay. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, over 1,800 college students die of alcohol-related causes each year. That's about 1 student per 4-year college in the US. Deaths from drinking are not rare. They are very real and it frustrates me to see friends not look out for each other.
If you're reading this, I hope that means you are ready to look out for your friends. I hope that you will offer and accept help when it is needed. I'm not saying you shouldn't drink, but that you should look out for your friends and they should look out for you. Everyone makes mistakes and you don't want your one bad night to define (or end) your life. 1,800 college lives. Those lives could form their own school. So let's place a higher value on ourselves and live our lives in a fun and safe manner.