THE SANTA CLARA
October 1, 2015
On her website inhershoesmvmt.org, Judith Martinez, class of 2014, raises the question of what can be achieved when a person is one percent more courageous. In University President Fr. Michael Engh, S.J.’s address to all new students on Saturday, he talked about Judith’s question, directing it towards the audience and challenging our newest members of the Santa Clara family. To all Broncos, I ask of you, “What can you achieve if you are one percent more courageous in the context of alcohol consumption?”
Since then, 13 students and three visitors have been transported to hospital emergency rooms by an ambulance after drinking too much alcohol. An additional seven people received medical attention, but they did not need urgent care. In each case, there were fellow Broncos who looked out for the welfare of these individuals and called Campus Safety and SCU EMS. Thankfully, these intoxicated people were not left on their own passed out on someone’s front lawn, in a residence hall room or another location where they could have easily fallen further into harm’s way, perhaps even died. The Broncos who called Campus Safety or notified a CF were one percent more courageous.
But I ask, where was the courage earlier in the evening? Why didn’t another Bronco cut each person off from drinking those extra beers or additional shots of hard alcohol? It is not a secret that the excessive consumption of alcohol puts oneself and others in danger. Yet on a regular basis, Broncos let other Broncos drink to the point of harm.
The confusing part of the problem is that it happens in the context of the Santa Clara community, one that builds and fosters friendships that last a lifetime. I frequently hear students boast that members of the Santa Clara community have each other’s backs. Students value one another and rally around the fact that although everyone comes from a different background, they all share a common membership in the Santa Clara community. There is tremendous pride in that fact.
Why then, did twenty three people, who admittedly attended parties, consume alcohol to the extent that resulted in a medical emergency? Undoubtedly, each one of them is accountable for their actions. At the same time, what did those beside them and those who provided the alcohol do to create an environment that facilitated the dangerously excessive drinking? Why didn’t another Bronco intervene and tell them, “Hey, cool it before you drink too much?”
During my eighteen years at Santa Clara, I have seen eleven students die before they graduated. In each case, I have witnessed the impact that those deaths had on the students’ families and on the Santa Clara community. In one instance, the student’s passing was connected with excessive consumption of alcohol during a spring break trip. College students don’t party with the intention of drinking to harm themselves or others, yet on a weekly basis, we witness it happen.
We will continue to offer education about alcohol and drug use. We will continue to create social activities that don’t involve booze. For those who are of legal drinking age, there are events that include the responsible and low-risk use of alcohol in which alcohol use is not the focal point. However, the reality is that the staff and faculty who care so deeply about each of you are not at your parties monitoring your drinking. That responsibility rests with each of you.
Think about the choices you make for yourself. Think about the Bronco next to you who is choosing to drink alcohol. Be one percent more courageous and take action.
Matthew Duncan is the associate dean for student life.