The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU students gather around a bucket of markers to write an encouraging note to put in “Welcome to the Shelter” kits at event in mid-April on SMU’s campus.
Dallas homeless recovery center, The Bridge, is a home
Morgan Shiver, Contributor • June 20, 2024
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A•ware•ness (noun) – Knowing, noticing or realizing something

While I applaud John Jose for having been inspired to craft the conscientious and fiscally conservative argument he posits in Wednesday’s The Daily Campus (as well as his excellent employment of elementary economic principles, which I admittedly struggle with at times), I must respond by providing an example of “raising awareness” that I feel would be more in-line with the standard Jose proposes.

First, allow me to correct the record. I am a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, which Jose claims is principally responsible for the Men With Integrity program impugned in Wednesday’s op/ed piece. Although some SigEps were involved in MWI at its zenith, the fraternity is in no way “driving” Men With Integrity today. Sadly, the group has been defunct for over a year. I must pause to ask why it is being revived now? John: haven’t you heard the old saying, “don’t beat a dead horse”?

Now, allow me to pose a very serious question: Would you, if given the choice, let a friend lie on the floor in a pool of his or her own vomit for hours until they finally passed away? As graphic as it sounds, this is the fate of nearly 1,700 of our peers annually. I am talking about alcohol poisoning and other deadly incidents involving alcohol.

Eighteen year-old Gordie Bailey died in this horrific and tragic manner on Sept. 17, 2004 at the University of Colorado at Boulder. If he were alive, Gordie would be 22 years old and would have graduated with a degree in business this past May. Instead, Gordie’s ashes lie scattered in the mountains near his family’s home in Sun Valley, Idaho and his spirit lives on through the memorial foundation his parents established to ensure that similar misfortune and heartbreak do not visit more families.

Gordie’s story is not unique. There are hundreds of stories like his that appear in newspapers and television news reports every year.

Many say that a leading cause of these deaths is a profound ignorance about the signs of alcohol poisoning. Others point to the strict measures universities have taken to punish students who are caught drinking underage. Naively, students think that letting a friend “sleep off” the effects of alcohol bears far less risk than potentially facing a conduct violation for being caught. They think of the consequences they would face from their parents if they knew how hard they partied while away at school. Consider the families of the students who die each year because their friends didn’t call 911 when they were in desperate need.

Next week is National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week. Events will be held to “raise awareness” about the dangers and the risks associated with alcohol and how to drink responsibly. I must stress that the message is not one of abstinence. Most would agree that type of approach is futile. Rather, all that is expected is that students keep each other safe.

Wednesday’s event is called National GORDIEday, a first-annual event held in memory of Gordie Bailey. As the name suggests, it will be held across the United States on college, university and high school campuses. SMU is a featured participant in the event, first because Gordie’s parents still live in Dallas, and secondly because his parents are concerned about the dangerous and familiar behavior they see on our campus.

On Wednesday, cards will be distributed containing the signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning. They are intended to go in students’ wallets and on key chains for easy-access in case a situation ever calls for someone to diagnose an intoxicated friend-heaven forbid. While they are not definitive in their ability to tell exactly what alcohol poisoning looks like, perhaps by identifying certain signs, a phone call will be placed that could save a life.

Last month, Gordie’s parents marked the fourth anniversary of his passing. His mother flies to their home in Sun Valley each year to recall happy times the family spent together. Gordie’s sister Lily is a college freshman this year, and her mother worries about the risks that await her on campus. But, she sleeps better at night knowing that some students are at least more aware than they once were about the dangers of alcohol poisoning and the need to call for help for dangerously intoxicated friends.

And to reassure Jose, no student fee dollars will be put towards any of the educational materials distributed next week, although I am certain he would approve of the efforts being made to “raise awareness” about this issue and the need to save lives by making that very important call for help.

Brooks Powell is a senior political science major. He can be reached for comment at [email protected].

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