Reckless partying can lead to disaster

By Kate Bigam

KENT, Ohio – Gary DeVercelly drank himself to death.

The 18-year-old freshman at New Jersey’s Rider University died March 30 of alcohol poisoning. Last week, two Rider officials and three students were charged in DeVercelly’s death, the result of fraternity hazing activities.

In college, partying is generally a given. Some students abstain, sure, but they seem to be few and far between. Those who drink themselves into hazy dazes every weekend are easy to find, if you know where to look – at the bars and off-campus houses and virtually any residence hall.

As college students, we feel it is our right to imbibe as much as we want, as much as we can and, oftentimes, more than we can. “We’re only here for four years,” we tell ourselves, “so we deserve to live it up.”

But in 2005, that “live it up” maxim resulted in death for nearly 17,000 Americans. And although death is certainly the most final punishment, it’s not the only one drinking can impose – a sentiment to which those newly indicted Rider students can attest. While grieving the loss of a brother and friend, they now take the blame, forced to own up to their actions as well as DeVercelly’s.

Many of us will, luckily, never face criminal charges or the inside of a coffin due to our drinking habits, but few are strangers to alcohol-induced drama and fall-out from “the morning after.”

If you say you don’t know anyone who has been negatively affected by drinking, you’re either a bad liar or a great denier. We all know someone – or are someone – who has experienced firsthand the unnecessary evils of reckless drinking.

When drunk, one-night stands with people you don’t care about seem like a great idea – until you get knocked up or test positive for Chlamydia. Even if you escape physically unscathed, those meaningless encounters can maim self-worth.

When drunk, fistfights with friends seem like the only way to solve tension – until you wake up Sunday morning to realize you gave your buddy a black eye. And physical damage aside, you’ve got a reputation to fix, because the people who saw you go postal want sober explanations and apologies the next day.

When drunk, taking seven shots seems like fun – until you’ve thrown up so hard you’ve burst the blood vessels in your eyes and pulled a muscle in your stomach. Cheating on your girlfriend sounds like a situation you’ll be able to talk yourself out of later – until she starts dating a guy with a conscience, instead.

Broken bones, temper tantrums, regrettable conversations and run-ins with the law: all the result of too much alcohol and not enough self-control.

Sometimes the damage done while drunk, both to yourself and those you love, is too massive to be fixed while sober. In situations like these, getting drunk is akin to eating an entire chocolate cake: It tastes good at the time, but when the damage is done, you can’t take back what you’ve done.

Nights that start in fun and end in loss – loss of inhibitions, loss of friends, loss of life – aren’t very fun at all. Maybe it’s time we rethink our idea of “fun.”