Here's To Alcohol, The Rose-Colored Glasses Of Life

Here's To Alcohol, The Rose-Colored Glasses Of Life

Try looking from the outside of the glass in.
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I mean, let's be honest, everyone drinks. That college kid that you watched bong three beers in a row, drinks on the days that end in "Y." That woman you saw at the restaurant who ordered a margarita, drinks once or twice a month. The dad at the Cubs game who called the vendor over to get a few beers, drinks a time or two during the week. These people live normal lives and drink just for the hell of it. They don't drink to mask the problems in their lives, but unfortunately, some people do.

Someone I hold near and dear to me wears these rose colored glasses every single day, and let me tell you, it isn't pretty. I'm not here to ridicule people about drinking, because like I said everyone drinks — but I don't want it to get the best of you.

To be completely honest, I don't know how it starts. In my opinion, it's different for every person because some people have self-control... some do not. This person that I mentioned, the one I sincerely care about, doesn't mentally exist like they once did. This is all because of alcohol. They let it get the best of them. They used it, time and time again to cover up the fact that their life was falling apart rather than growing up and fixing it. As much as I miss and would love to tell you about them, I need to warn you — do not fall into the trap.

You see here, the glasses aren't rose colored. Those glasses took my childhood away. Countless nights of listening to people argue. Not having my lunch packed for school. Not having clean clothes or someone to do my hair in the morning. The absence of a parent (or two) for a few days at a time. Learning how to do my own laundry at the age of six years old. Mowing lawns for some extra money so I could buy food for my little brothers and I. Getting excited about having Kool-aid or Doritos in the house because we never had those luxuries — don't do this to your children.

I look at that person I care about now, and I wish I could help them. I give them chance after chance to change, I cry, and I beg. I have used so much time and so much energy to try to help them. I've realized that my life is taking off now and that I cannot sit around waiting for them to change. Moral of the story is, don't drink to take the pain away... because the pain that you are drinking away, is getting put on someone else's shoulders. Someone who shouldn't have to endure it.

Cover Image Credit: Macey Joe Mullins

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Not My Michigan

A Michigan student-athlete turned Registered Nurse on the Michigan Medicine contract negotiations in 2018.

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It's May 1st, 2016. I'm bright-eyed, eager, and graduating from the University of Michigan as a Nursing Student and Student-Athlete.

I am ready to take on the world the way that Michigan taught me how: fearlessly, compassionately, and wholeheartedly. I bleed blue. I know what it means to be a Wolverine and to represent the Michigan Difference in everything I do. I wear the block M on my School of Nursing scrubs and my Michigan Dance Team uniform well aware that it represents goodness, tradition, and excellence. I am determined. I am inspired. I am ready.

It's Monday, September 17th, 2018. What does Michigan mean to me now? I used to be so sure. Now, I simply don't know. So, what's the deal? How did my view on an institution become so indifferent in recent months?

I chose U of M to start my nursing career because it had the widely known reputation of putting its patients first, respecting its nurses, and providing the best care to patients in the state (5th in the country, to be exact). In my first year, as I was clumsily learning how to push patient stretchers, titrate intravenous vasopressors, and to communicate with the medical team, I proudly participated in our hospital's effort to achieve Magnet status.

When Nursing earned Magnet Status, an award given by the American Nurses' Credentialing Center and indicator of the strength and quality of Nursing at Michigan, I felt that same pride as I did in May of 2016.

I knew in my heart that I picked the best institution to develop my nursing practice and to give high quality, patient-centered care to anyone who walked, rolled, or was carried through the doors of Adult Emergency Services. The hospital's goals were aligned with mine and those around me. We put patients first, and more specifically, we put patients over profits.

I am lucky enough to work at a hospital that has been unionized for more than four decades. When I started working, the concept of a union was foreign to me. For those who may need a refresher, unions promote and protect the interests of all employees. They collectively bargain with employers to secure written agreements for employees regarding pay, benefits, and working conditions.

Collective bargaining agreements are legally enforceable contracts holding employers and employees to mutually agreed-to workplace rules and process to provide a fair and just workplace. The University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council, an affiliate of the Michigan Nurses Association, has been working diligently since January to bargain with the University of Michigan to protect me, the 5,700 nurses who work within the institution, and our patients. I'd like to think they're the good guys in this story.

Here's where things get sticky: David Spahlinger, president of our prestigious U of M health system, has publicly stated that Michigan is "committed to maintaining current staffing levels," but will not make this commitment in writing. Common sense is reflected in the most high-quality research on the topic of nurse-patient ratios and its direct effect on patient care.

Appropriate staffing allows me and my coworkers to give the quality of care that I know we have the ability to provide. High staffing levels are associated with reduced mortality, falls, medication errors, ulcers, restraint use and infections. Unregulated staffing is a significant barrier to nurses' abilities to provide optimal patient care and prevents Nursing at Michigan from providing what we know to be the Michigan Difference in healthcare.

UMPNC held voting on a work stoppage for unfair labor practices last week. Out of 4,000 votes cast by nurses at the U, 94% authorized a work stoppage in protest of the University's unfair labor practices. No date is set, but our elected nurse bargaining team now has the authority to call for action.

Thank you to Katie Oppenheim, who chairs our union, for reiterating in an article to the Detroit Free Press that a work stoppage is not our goal. "Our goal is a fair agreement which respects nurses and guarantees safe staffing. The university can remedy this situation immediately by stopping their unfair labor practices and bargaining in good faith."

I am proud to be a nurse and I hope that our efforts to keep Michigan a patients-over-profits institution are recognized at the community, state, and national level. Anne McGinity, David Spahlinger, and those who have the power to make Michigan the magical place I once thought it was, make like Nike and just do it. For the love of patients, nurses, and our great University. I know we are better than this.

(Stay Tuned, folks).

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LSU Students Give New Tailgating Rules Mixed Reviews A Year After Maxwell Gruver's Hazing Death

"These rules ruin the legendary LSU tailgate culture of accepting all game day lovers."

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One year ago, the death of LSU student Max Gruver shocked the campus. This tragedy called for a social change in the Greek Life community and the entire student body.

Following Gruver's death, LSU President F. King Alexander ordered an immediate suspension of all Greek Life activity and announced the formation of the Greek Life Task Force (GLTF), Mari Fuentes-Martin, the dean of students and board member of the GLTF, told me.

Since the tragedy, The GLTF made 28 recommendations to improve student safety, Greek Life environment, and campus life environment. President Alexander approved all 28 recommendations, including the recently enforced tailgating restrictions, Fuentes-Martin said.

"Rules related to tailgating fell under my responsibilities," she said.

To provide student safety, these new restrictions require that all fraternities must host their tailgates in their chapter's house. This new policy, labeled PS-78, ensures the parameters necessary for safe tailgating by banning hard alcohol, common source containers and requiring a third party vendor. Also, each member of a fraternity is permitted only three outside guests, limiting the number of people at each tailgate, she said.

The support to alter the tailgate culture remains wide, but she continues to receive mixed reactions toward the new restrictions, Fuentes-Martin said.

"This is complete bullshit," said Michelle Buie, a senior at LSU. Holding tailgates in a frat house creates an even greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse because it is a closed environment, she said.

When the parade grounds hosted the Greek tailgates, everyone easily saw everything, this reduced the risk of hazing and other dangerous activities. Since Greek tailgates now occur in a private location, fraternity members are able to resort to their rooms for drug use or hazing, she said.

These restrictions also put a potential increase on sexual assault incidents. If a student passed out on the parade grounds, there was no hiding it and they received immediate help. Now, if this were to happen in a frat house, the student could easily be taken advantage of, she said.

"I'm scared these new rules will only backfire, leaving us with another tragedy or even worse," Buie said.

These restrictions are not only potentially dangerous, but they also reinforce the stigma that Greek Life is exclusive. Students are now forced to create their own, unorganized and unsupervised tailgates, where in the past, the parade grounds offered all students a comfortable and close environment with adult and police supervision, Buie said.

"These rules ruin the legendary LSU tailgate culture of accepting all game day lovers," she said. In the past, tailgating was open for all, but now a student must be on a guest list.

Overall, Greek members' reactions toward the restrictions remain negative, but understanding to the Administration's efforts to establish a safer environment, Buie said.

The GLTF spent countless hours of planning and discussion when it came to the restrictions, Fuentes-Martin said. With these restrictions, the GLTF expects the elimination of all assaults and confrontation.

After meeting with stakeholders and listening to their concerns, the GLTF complied the feedback and found trends in priority matters that required alterations, with the tailgate culture as a top concern, she said.

As the administrative supervisor for Greek Life, Campus Life and Student Advocacy and Accountability, Fuentes-Martin collaborated these units for the creation of the new procedures and enforcement necessary for the new tailgate plan.

"I am very proud to have worked on this massive project for the past year and see the significant changes that have already occurred," Fuentes-Martin said.

As a student affairs professional for over 25 years, Fuentes-Martin continues to work with a community of colleagues concerned about high-risk behaviors and how to proactively prevent harmful situations on campus.

The GLTF realizes this year will bring the most challenges since significant change often begins with resistance and chaos, but they hope that over the next five years these new restrictions will create a safer environment, Fuentes-Martin said.

"The response from every division of our huge campus is supportive of a new normal for LSU," she said. No one wants to see another student harmed.

"There has to be a true fear of repercussions to prevent violations," said Melissa Salamoni, a retired captain of the Baton Rouge police department. Students will fall to peer pressure and follow the violators of the new tailgating restrictions, she said.

Some students will follow the new restrictions without hesitation, but others will always find a way around it. Violators will either tailgate on other campus locations and not identify as a student organization, or they will tailgate off campus, she said.

"Swift and sure punishment for violators is a must," Salamoni said.

Administration must randomly inspect tailgate parties to ensure the student body's compliance with the restrictions. Students also need better education regarding the dangers of binge drinking, she said. Salamoni worked all of the LSU home footballs games throughout her 32 years as a law enforcement officer. During this time she encountered endless cases involving student injuries, sexual assaults, and illnesses, all caused by binge drinking.

Within one month, 37.9 percent of college students reported binge drinking compared to 32.6 percent of other people the same age, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

The new tailgating restrictions will greatly benefit the student body, but only if the LSU Administrations strictly enforces them, Salamoni said.

"Football season always causes an enormous spike in ER visits," said Steven Ragusa, an emergency room doctor at St. Elizabeth Hospital. As a father of three sons, each involved in Greek Life at LSU, Ragusa is aware of the risky activities and potentially dangerous outcomes that each tailgate offers.

When students submerge themselves in an environment ruled by alcohol, they lose their senses and convince themselves that binge drinking is normal college fun, he said.

Students forget how to drink this time of the year. Hopefully, these new restrictions will lower the number of stomachs pumped and serve as a proper guide to healthy tailgating, he said.

No parent should ever undergo the death of their child, especially to something so preventable, Ragusa said.

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