Drinking death opens question on responsibility

For some college students, binge drinking may seem like a rite of passage. However for Gary DeVercelly, it ended up being a fatal decision during a fraternity party at Rider University in New Jersey.

The 18-year-old freshman died on the morning of March 31 due to alcohol poisoning, according to the New York Times.

DeVervelly was allegedly drinking as part of a hazing ritual connected with his fraternity. Given his age, the student was not legally supposed to be drinking in the first place. But who should be held responsible? The incident is currently under investigation and according to the Times’ article, the Assistant Prosecutor Angelo Onofrio believes that the charges involved should range from felony hazing to manslaughter.

Some students can relate to this situation. Often times, students can find themselves in similar situations and often make poor decisions because their peers influence them. It is all about personal responsibility. When people drink to the point where they can no longer make rational decisions, it could cost them their life. If a person feels the pressure is getting too intense, they have the option to walk away.

Societal attitudes toward drinking should is not without blame. Creative marketing strategies and well-placed ads help create a society in which drinking is not only normal, but encouraged. When was the last time a prominent sporting event, such as the Super Bowl or the NCAA Final Four, was shown on television without heavy placement of beer commercials?

Drinking is also embedded in college culture. There are countless photos on Facebook and MySpace showing college students chugging alcohol from bottles. According to a study released March 15 by the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, 49 percent of college students binge drink and/or abuse prescription and illegal drugs.

The solution to this problem comes down to personal responsibility. Alcoholic drinks may taste good and some students see it as another way to have a good time, but it is more than that. Alcohol is something that needs to be used responsibly and the consequences of drinking should not be just an after thought. Without proper care, alcohol can be something that can lead to injury or in the case of DeVercelly, death.