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Editorial: Annual heartache

Some consider alcoholism and wanton recreational drug usage endemic qualities of college student populations. It is an easy stereotype to assume is grounded in reality on some level, to be sure, with the prevalence in popular culture of such films as National Lampoon’s Van Wilder, the cult classic Animal House or anything in that vein. The image, though, of the drunken lout, just barely scraping by, attending the minimal amount of classes and instantly forgetting them through drink, is anything but savory. While the American populace might have found a special place in its heart for such a character, as evidenced by the aforementioned media representations, it is not the image a college campus should strive for, and neither should its student body.

This is a perennial issue that shows no signs of dying: what should we do about substance abuse on college campuses? How do we shake off the image drawn above, an image that the vast, overwhelming majority of us do not fit into? La Salle has a number of resources available to students who admit they have problems, and the Counseling Center works tirelessly to raise awareness about the effects of alcohol and recreational drugs on the body of a person in the late stages of puberty and development, but these efforts seem to fall victim to a self-selected bias. Only students concerned enough with their own bodies will go out of their way to seek these resources out. While we applaud the efforts of the Counseling Center, we wonder what else can be done to increase the awareness of such issues on our fair campus at 20th and Olney.

Indeed, the topic is viable and worthy of discussion, even up unto this present semester. The Sept. 27 issue of the Collegian reported on Phi Gamma Delta’s (FIJI, colloquially) suspension, the result of EMTs having to be summoned to a party. FIJI proceeded to violate their suspension by hosting more rush activities thereafter. We do not want to misconstrue the issue in any way, shape or form: alcohol and drug issues are far larger than Greek life on campus. More organizations than fraternities and sororities have been cited and penalized for throwing raucous parties at which people have gotten rather sick. The stories are annual. We hear them time and time again; every year, a handful of groups feel the necessity to hold bacchanals, invite freshmen and get temporarily or permanently shut down.

Enough is enough, La Salle. We have a unique perspective on this topic because of our watchdog-like responsibility in the Lasallian community. We recognize more keenly the problems these incidents cause for our image, let alone the detriment to the student body intrinsic to these abuses. La Salle is by no means a dry campus, neither in principle nor in deed, but that places a greater onus upon us to be responsible in our actions. If we were a dry campus, if alcohol was out-and-out banned everywhere, including in the apartments and townhouses, then the majority of infractions would lose much of their significance. Universal rules are always violated, without exception. But when the university grants us rights, albeit rights that are in agreement with U.S. laws and statutes (i.e., allowing 21-year-olds to drink), violations become more egregious. With rights come responsibilities, and year after year of these responsibilities being compromised bodes ill for the freedoms granted us.

This call to responsibility is more than a generic wag of the finger typical of media outlets every September and October. It is more than the Collegian armchair philosophizing, idly contemplating what it means when we consider all the adages thrust upon us about truly growing in the university setting, growing into adults. This is a genuine expression of care for the Lasallian community, a desire for the betterment of the University and its students. Yearly, students, Explorers, our brothers and sisters in the Lasallian spirit, are being rushed to hospital emergency wards to have their stomachs pumped and to be treated for alcohol poisoning. This is intolerable, and something must change.

From where must the change come? The University, as mentioned above, has resources available for students, has agencies working for the students’ good. They have reached out to the student body, which reacts yearly by violating the trust of the school. The change, now, must come from within. It is up to the students of our august institution to step up to the plate and change itself for the better.

Next year, we would like to publish no stories regarding EMTs being called after a far-too-enthusiastic party. We would like to see the Lasallian student body own up to its identity as a community of individuals dedicated to each others’ welfare and upkeep. “Together, and by association,” is a phrase oft overused on this campus, but those words have power and meaning when used properly.

Indeed, together, and by association, we can live up to the idea that the campus is ours, an extension of ourselves. La Salle is the student body, and the student body needs tending to. It is up to us to do the tending.


La Salle University
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