New Jersey Tragedy

This past Wednesday Rider University student Gary Devercelly slipped into coma after reportedly consuming three-quarters of a bottle of Absolut vodka. He was found unconscious after suffering cardiac arrest. According to school officials, Gary was resuscitated through CPR by EMTs and rushed to a local hospital, where he remained in intensive care unit through the night. This morning, Gary, at the age of 18, died.
Though tragic, the event was typical in far too many ways.
Gary was a freshman, and a pledge for the national fraternity Phi Kappa Tau. The Wednesday night party, though not registered with the college as required, was reported to have been a step in the pledge process. Campus officials report that the event did not explicitly involve hazing; however, the difference between being forced to drink and being pressured to drink here seems negligible. The fact remains that students were serving students in a drinking environment beyond the reach of parental, administrative, or legal authority. Consequently, the drinking that occurred was extreme, dangerous, and in the end, deadly.
Since Gary was 18 this is a case of underage drinking. Perhaps more importantly, it was what everyone likes to also call binge drinking. . . but what is the connection between the two? This case of binge drinking, like most others, occurred behind closed doors, and off campus. There were no bartenders to cut-off the obscenely drunk from drinking, or any role models for responsible drinking behavior. In short, the drinking was fueled by the fact that irresponsible drinking become the normative drinking behavior.

One Trenton newspaper reports that Gary was a member of Students Against Drunk Driving. And yet, that knowledge, that membership did little to prevent the tragedy with which we are faced now. Drunk driving and binge drinking are two equally important consequences of irresponsible drinking. However, until we realize that prohibitory-style laws that seeks to limit college-age drunk driving merely increase binge drinking, today’s tragedy will not be an isolated incident.

If you question the logic, try to imagine a paid staff member of an academic institution serving 3/4’s of a bottle of vodka to a student in 15 minutes. It matters less that the person is 18, than it does that he or she is consuming fatal amounts of alcohol.

Comments are closed.