During this spring semester, including as recently as last week, students at other colleges in Pennsylvania have died as a result of excessive drinking. We mourn with their families these tragedies and the loss of these young lives and the unfathomable pain that has been inflicted upon those who loved them. Each campus is now going through the wrenching and necessary self-analysis to determine what anyone on those campuses might have done to prevent these deaths.
I could not learn about last week’s tragedy at this time of the semester without thinking of how much all of you mean to your families, to this community, and to me. As you know, I have shared with you in other settings the fact that as president of the University, I have learned in my two years here of students who have nearly come to the point of death at Bucknell as a result of excessive drinking. At least two students have been in full cardiac arrest, and thus moments away from the ultimate tragedy. We are now about to enter the conclusion of finals, followed by Senior Week, and with last week’s events as a painful reminder, I am worried again about you and the choices some might make.
As a dad and as someone who has spent his professional life in higher education, I know full well that this time of year is often marked by celebration with alcohol. We as faculty and staff try to do all we can to encourage students to be sensible about how they celebrate important moments in their lives. I am doing that now on behalf of everyone who cares about you, and asking you to please be smart and be careful. And I am also asking you to look out for one another. Those engaged in heavy drinking need no one more than they need a good friend to let them know to stop, and to help them in case they drink too much to care for themselves. If you have any concern about a friend’s well-being, please call 911. Far better, though: please don’t let it get to that point.
By your work this year, by your success during finals and final papers, you have earned the right to enjoy your achievements. Please be sure at the same time to recognize the responsibility you have to yourself, to your families, and to one another to enjoy this moment in good health.
Congratulations on your many successes, and thank you for looking out for each other.
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