May 6, 2017

"Eighteen fraternity members were charged in the death of a 19-year-old Pennsylvania State University student who fell multiple times after consuming toxic levels of alcohol..."

"... and whose own friends failed to get help for him for many hours," WaPo reports.

Criminal liability for failure to act is a longstanding problem in law. For a quick trip through the subject, here's Wikipedia's article. Below the jump are the details to the story that may flip your reaction from what it was when you read the sentence I quoted above.

The grand jury’s presentment describes pledges ordered to go through a gauntlet of drinking stations at the party that night, at which they were ordered to quickly drink vodka, shotgun a beer, and so on. It described videotape of Piazza being helped staggering, hunched over, to a couch and later trying unsuccessfully to open the front door, then “severely staggering” in the direction of the basement steps a little before 11 p.m.

He was found unconscious at the bottom of the stairs, according to the findings. Shortly before midnight, a fraternity brother wrote on a group message that Piazza “might actually be a problem. He fell 15 feet down a flight of stairs, hair-first, going to need help.” Later video showed Piazza on a couch, unresponsive even as fraternity brothers poured water on his face, his left arm falling limply when someone lifted it, according to the grand jury presentment. Someone sat on his legs to keep him from rolling off the couch. At one point, a newly initiated member of the fraternity saw Piazza, became upset and screamed at the others that they needed to get him to the hospital. Someone pushed him against a wall and ordered him to leave, telling him they had the situation under control. When he tried to convince another brother to call 911, the new member was told he was crazy.

At about 1 a.m., fraternity brothers put a backpack full of books on Piazza, who had thrown up and was twitching, in an attempt to keep him from rolling onto his back, according to the jurors’ findings. After 3 a.m., Piazza tried to stand but fell, hitting his head on the floor. He fell again at 4 a.m. At 5 a.m., he fell, hit his head on an iron railing and landed on a stone floor. He got up, trying to get to the front door, but fell and hit his head on the door. Fraternity brothers stepped over him. After 7 a.m., Piazza fell down the basement stairs again. When fraternity members found him, unconscious, cold to the touch, and with blood on his face the next morning, it was more than 40 minutes before they called 911.

Piazza died the next morning.


Annie C. said...

Oh dear lord.

I am so glad my son joined the Marines and went to Afghanistan where he was safe.

readering said...

Collective evil.

jpg said...

They got him drunk in the first place. They caused him bodily injury, even if unintentionally, by poisoning him with alcohol. That unintentional assault caused his death. Manslaughter.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Well, we know Ann likes gauntlets...Fashion!

Read and Enjoy said...

IIR, legal damages must either be awarded for failure to perform your duty to another, or for assuming to perform where no duty exists, except volunteering to perform and then performing negligently., because the volunteer's actions excluded others from performing. Practice tip: stand and watch and never lift a finger to help.

Read and Enjoy said...

What you mean we, paleface? Being a Frat Brother is no guarantee of receiving assistance when in need.

mockturtle said...

I'm no legal scholar--nor even illegal scholar--but they would seem culpable for at least manslaughter.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Holy Cow. The stupid is strong in these ones. It seems that they are going to be found guilty of manslaughter. What fools!!. They videoed this instead of getting this guy to a hospital?

Amadeus 48 said...

There are some real problems for the frat bros based on the rules they violated (ranging from their own rules to those of the university and their own national organization)and the fact that they were conducting a process (initiation/hazing) that resulted in this man's incapacity and death. Their failure to act effectively to get him aid is interesting analytically but is just a piece of a much larger problem. They undertook to assist him incompetently. They physically manipulated him (battery?) in an attempt to assist him (a backpack filled with books? sitting on his legs??). I don't know the ins and outs of the Pennsylvania statutes, but these dopes did a lot of things that were not effective, and, having undertaken to assist him, they failed to do the things (call 911?) that might have been effective.
Glad Biden and Trump don't drink.

Michael K said...

I am concerned at the increase in drinking in college these days. Fraternities have always had some drinking but this seems out of control. I don't know why but girls are getting drunk all the time.

The pledge thing is stupid. When I was in college the Kappa Sigs killed a pledge who was required to swallow a big piece of liver and choked. They also lied about why he was in distress when the ambulance arrived.

These guys sound really stupid and should pay a heavy price. At one time graduate advisors lived in fraternity houses to keep stuff like this under control.

I went through Hell Week as a pledge but it was a combination of working on the fraternity house and humorous stuff. One of our tortures was to stand for a couple of hours blindfolded and listen to Schoenberg's "Transfigured Night" played at half speed. They called it "Being transfigured."

Another was to sleep on the stairs of the fraternity house, one to each step. Then the actives would ring a bell and the top guy had to go to the bottom and everyone move up one step. They'd ring the bell every couple of hours. We had to have all our bedding and move that, too.

None of it was vicious, dangerous stuff like this.

Nonapod said...

I never bothered with frats in college. Had some friends encouraged me to pledge, but it just wasn't my scene I guess. Since then, the periodic news stories of hazing, rape, and the like make me believe I must have had wisdom beyond my years.

Mark said...

Dust bunny, the video was surveillance cams of in the house from what I understand .... thus the middle of the night falling chronology.

Whoever backpacked him while he was twitching should face serious charges, as their actions were essentially 'treating' him for alcohol poisoning in a way which helped kill him.

Zero sympathy for these folks. Poor kid, so sorry for the parents.

Mark said...

I got into college right after the drinking age went from 18 to 21. Freshman year dorm parties had open doors, the RA stopping by for a beer early in the night, and anyone wasted sent back to their rooms before going overboard.

By senior year doors were shut, anyone too drunk was kept around so as to not alert the RA who would call campus cops. Far more binge drinking and risky behavior.

'Pregame' before athletic and other events went from a social beer, sometimes with visiting parents, to beer bongs or lots of shots done in private. Instead of having a beer or more at the game, all the alcohol was consumed in very short time ahead of leaving for event .... and drinking no longer mixed with 21+ and parents - it was all 18-20 year olds teaching each other bad ideas as anyone over 21 in that company could get huge tickets.

It's just been downhill from there, for decades now.

Fernandinande said...

Bad Lieutenant said...
Well, we know Ann likes gauntlets...Fashion!

Gauntlet:gloves :: Pants:shorts

Eighteen fraternity members

Here are some numbers garnered from the current Drudgereport:
One-eyed horse
19 Pounds
44 cases
68 dogs
85 years
150 students
230 mph
395 birds

Otto said...

Pure collectivism. a century of complete failure has turned into PMs or social marxists. there only power is words and sadly our corrupt leftist legal system.

Ann Althouse said...

Presumably, they were all drunk too.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Dust bunny, the video was surveillance cams of in the house from what I understand .... thus the middle of the night falling chronology

Thanks Mark. That made it clearer. Although, in today's omnipresent smart phone, selfie culture, I wouldn't have been surprised to find that some of them made a video of the events.

Regarding the increase in binge drinking today, perhaps it is a combination of not being actually exposed to alcohol as a common social nicety when the students are young, and the ridiculously inaccurate presentation in movies showing macho actors carelessly pounding down shots with no effects. I'm sorry, but if you are slamming down straight doubles of whiskey one after the other you are going to be really drunk and not able to continue on with your heroic activities.

Heck, when I was a kid in the late 50's early 60's it was normal for the adults to get together at one or the other of the neighbors houses for cocktails, hors d'ouvres (sp?), all dressed up, chatting and listening to lps on the stereo. I don't recall the adults playing cards in a mixed group. Maybe they did at other segregated functions where the kids were not present. Who knows/shrug.

Often we kids would be allowed a sip of various cocktails or even given the task of being bartender for a few moments (until we got tired of the adults and went off to play in the yard, play monopoly or listen to OUR much better music in another part of the house). By the age of 12, I not only knew the difference between a Black and White Russian but could mix those for some of the guests. Being allowed to sip, I realized that I really hated those. As a result, drinking wasn't a big forbidden deal. It was just something that adults did in moderation (mostly) and those that were not moderate, didn't get invited back for the next weekend cocktail hour.

Rae said...

I don't know why but girls are getting drunk all the time.

I know why. A drunk girl always has a ride home.

As far as the frat goes...whatever they get, they deserve. A manslaughter charge, at the very least.

Michael K said...

Regarding the increase in binge drinking today, perhaps it is a combination of not being actually exposed to alcohol as a common social nicety when the students are young, and the ridiculously inaccurate presentation in movies showing macho actors carelessly pounding down shots with no effects.

I don't know the reason but it is not just college students or fraternities. Binge drinking is all over the UK.

My youngest daughter graduated 5 years ago, She saw it but stayed pretty well away. She worked as a waitress through most of college and maybe that gave her some perspective. Maybe it's kids who have never worked and who have had helicopter parents finally out on their own. I just don't know.

mockturtle said...

Perhaps universities should only accept students of 30 years of age or older. Maturity, when and if it comes at all, seems to occur later and with each successive generation. I suspect part of the problem is that kids have no real responsibilities nowadays. Low expectations and low outcome.

DKWalser said...

I always wondered why Brigham Young University doesn't have fraternities. Now the answer seems a little clearer.

Owen said...

Truly horrible. These people will spend a lot on lawyers and I don't think they will escape unscathed. Nor IMHO should they.

Consider the fraternity as an entity engaged in the business of entertainment. Here it conducts a program of "entertainment" called "initiation" whose agenda seems to be "(1) administer toxic quantities of alcohol to young adults without any knowledge of their tolerance and NO PROVISION FOR DEALING WITH ADVERSE REACTIONS. (2) repeat step (1) until this shit happens. (3) protest innocence."


Freeman Hunt said...

A lesson to the pledge: You don't have to convince anyone else to call 911. You call.

This is insane. Schools spend so much time talking about all the awful things that smoking can cause and almost no time talking about alcohol. Time to change that.

Sounds like they should be charged and any mitigating circumstances can be sorted through in court.

That poor young man.

MaxedOutMama said...

I have to agree with the comment that the drinking is more dangerous since the age was raised to 21. It's not a practical age limit, and it means that the drinking all occurs without supervision, and that the individuals providing the alcohol and the venues hosting it have something to lose if things get out of hand.

As for this story - well, they weren't too drunk to realize that the guy was in trouble. They weren't too drunk to realize that deceased was blind drunk and in danger of aspirating vomit and dying. They weren't too drunk to stop a person who wanted to get outside help, and they weren't too drunk to act defensively in their own interests. So drunkenness, while it may have been a factor in bad decision making, doesn't explain the actions. What explains their actions is purely that they realized that if medical help were sought, they'd be in legal trouble (and presumably, trouble with the university).

I'll grant that they must have believed that the kid would come out of it, because otherwise it would have occurred to someone, sooner or later, that severe injury would invoke more problems than just a very drunk pledge. BUT the phrase "depraved indifference" comes to mind. Their own actions show that they realized that the deceased was in jeopardy, but that this realization did not prompt them to get medical help.

If you set a situation like this up, you are most certainly legally liable for the foreseeable results, but stopping other people from getting help changes the situation from one of omission to commission. Just as the high school racial struggle administrators were in the earlier story/post.

The kid was murdered. This is not a case of omissions for some of the actors, but of commissions. The charges seem not at all overdone to me - and that may be deliberate in order to get them to plead, which if they have any brains, they will do.

Michael K said...

" I suspect part of the problem is that kids have no real responsibilities nowadays. Low expectations and low outcome."

They don't have jobs like we did. Most of those "minimum wage" jobs are now held by illegals. I started working in 5th grade and had jobs until I graduated HS, then had a part time job in college since my scholarship did not cover all my expenses.

Fraternities were not intended for "entertainment." It might be true now, though. When I was in college, they were the cheapest places to live. Many colleges have made them so by banning the living group status and making all kids live in dorms or apartments. Now, they are a luxury and probably only kids with rich parents can afford them.

"The kid was murdered."

No but certainly negligence was committed. Maybe manslaughter would be fair for a couple of them. Gross negligence is not murder.

Kansas City said...

Seems like there was some criminal conduct, but not murder because no intent. Heartbreaking to read and how awful for family.

As an old fraternity guy, the thing that surprised me is that no one stepped up to help and take charge. We had wild nights, but especially at the house, there always would be a typically more senior guy with good judgment who would have stepped in. Guess is was a matter of good luck back then, and awful luck for the young man. Penn State I would have thought more likely than others to have some maturity.

Bad Lieutenant said...

The thing is they thought they were stepping in, they thought they were helping, handling it. Obviously drunken stupors happen there often enough that they have these drills with the knapsacks. This just went beyond what they were capable of handling. What fraternity was this? (I won't trust any reporting that says frat instead of fraternity.)

Golly, a bunch of teenagers thinking they could handle something they couldn't handle. Yeah, murder. Sure. Because that never happens.

Michael K said...

" Penn State I would have thought more likely than others to have some maturity."

A good friend of mine was in a fraternity at Penn State. He used to run afoul of the group during deer season when he would occasionally hang a deer from the back porch of the fraternity house.

"(I won't trust any reporting that says frat instead of fraternity.)"

Me either.

Big Mike said...

Back when LBJ and General Hershey turned me from a college student into a grunt, we used to complain about being old enough to get our asses shot off but too young to vote or buy a beer. Then in the early 1970s most states lowered their drinking age to 18 or19 and the 26th Amendment was passed. Then came 1984 and 18, 19, and 20 year olds were forced to drink behind closed doors and without adult supervision. Piazza isn't the only person who died as a consequence.

The book needs to thrown at the fraternity members who failed to get Piazza to a hospital. The message needs to go out to all fraternities and sororities that, bad as the consequences might be if it gets exposed that you were hazing pledges and providing alcohol (make that copious quantities of alcohol) to minors in violation of university rules, that's nothing next to the trouble you will be in if you don't get a drunken and injured person some medical aid.

The Godfather said...

It's been a long time since I was in college, but I remember that I was pretty stupid sometimes (Ivy League, yeah, but still stupid), but I find it hard to believe my friends and I would have been THAT stupid. I hope as we learn more facts we'll be able to conclude that the brothers were only conventionally stupid. If, as I hope, they are actually decent people, they are going to carry a heavy weight through their lives in addition to whatever the law lays on them.

Mark said...

If it gets to the point you consider 'backpacking' someone, you should seek medical help.

Either way, these guys were serving minors and all accomplices to that crime.

Around here those tickets are over $1k to each person over 21 year old. Use of alcohol for hazing is a clear criminal act as all these kids are illegal to serve or provide booze too.

It's time to end that tradition. If everyone serving and drinking got a ticket (it happens at UW house parties) this would end quick.

Known Unknown said...

Changing the legal age from 18 to 21 has resulted in more dangerous drinking habits. Binge drinking at bars is harder to do than if you go somewhere for one place since you are underage.

Richard Schaaf said...

When you start to blame there is no end to blame

etienne said...

I would throw each of them off the Golden Gate bridge, and if they survived, I would give them a pardon.

etienne said...

The US Army gave the savage North American natives alcohol.

Are they responsible for the settler massacres that occurred afterwards?

I say yes.

The US Army should pay the settlers ancestry. The savages weren't responsible.

We can call it redistribution of wealth #9.

Bad Lieutenant said...

The savages weren't responsible.

What's your excuse?

Zach said...

Reading the description of events, you get the strong impression that everybody who was supposed to help was also drunk.

When I was in college, the effect of the 21 year old drinking age was that it pushed people toward hard alcohol, since it was much easier to get ahold of one bottle than multiple sixpacks. It also meant that people drank in private parties rather than going out to public places where they would have more self control.

Anonymous said...

No, you don't need permission to call 911. But the strange dynamics of these group living arrangements makes I difficult without it.

I lived in a dorm, not a fraternity, and there wasn't any official pledging or hazing, but it didn't matter. The stupidity was high, the cruelty high, and the cowardice incredible. If you called 911 because someone's life was in danger, you were then the b**** or b****** who'd gotten the dorm closed, thrown 100+ people out of their living arrangements and otherwise "ruined" their lives. The one who wasn't dead wasn't usually grateful either.

It was easy to see how all sorts of collective evil happens when you were personally vilified for trying to save someone's life.

tim maguire said...

The frat brothers are guilty of some actions--promoting underage drinking, for example. But they did try to help him in their own half-assed way. He apparently continued to get up, wander around, and fall down for many hours after he stopped drinking. It's hard to see how they are culpable for that.

tim maguire said...

Zach said...When I was in college, the effect of the 21 year old drinking age was that it pushed people toward hard alcohol, since it was much easier to get ahold of one bottle than multiple sixpacks. It also meant that people drank in private parties rather than going out to public places where they would have more self control.

Yep, the 21 drinking age is responsible for far more irresponsible behaviour than these kids.

Michael K said...

"The US Army gave the savage North American natives alcohol."

Ameridians are genetically limited in the ability to process alcohol by genetics. It may be the result of 10,000 years of isolation from wheat and other sources of alcohol fermentation.

The same genetic factor increases the incidence of gallstones. Smallpox was lethal and syphilis was benign until transmitted to the naive population. The Amerindians had no contact with smallpox and Europeans had no contact with syphilis.

Tom said...

I'm a older member of this fraternity from a different school and these guys appear to have broken every rule we have - especially on alcohol and hazing. The facts still need to come out beyond what was I. One life gone and a lot more destroyed because of poor choices. I hope these guys can survive prison and make something out of their lives - at least try to make up for what they did.

Big Mike said...

@tim, the fraternity brothers were afraid of the consequences of being caught hazing pledges and providing alcohol to minors. This needs to be changed. Videos of 25 year sentences handed down to 18 fraternity brothers will go some distance to changing that attitude. Keep in mind that Piazza wasn't just passed out drunk; he fell down a flight of stairs! How did they know he didn't sustain a serious head injury?

Guildofcannonballs said...

These students were drinking to erase old white proggie gay Jerry Sandusky's crimes from their memories both individual and collective, and by God you people pray you never know that pain, what these particular when-walked-in shoes provide the brain's sensory centers stimulation in cogitation of.

Not ever.

Guildofcannonballs said...

But when doctors fuck up and people die, oops... try to not let it happen again, m'kay.

Thanks, toodles.

Or when cops blow away granny because she was so Darwin-adverse so as to not be living in a less unlucky spot, hey the taxpayers can foot the bill, cops get some vacay, family/survivors a little moolah, sounds good to me.

Why shouldn't the student body get to abort burdensome clumps it doesn't want, did certain people lose their penumbra detectors or something?

I can make those fucking penumbras emanate, if that's the issue here. Make 'em emanate like no other damned penumbras you ever heard of, guarantee you that.

Michael K said...

Make 'em emanate like no other damned penumbras you ever heard of, guarantee you that.

Your point ?

Guildofcannonballs said...

Grandma had knowledge, decency, and wisdom that would have allowed her grandchildren better odds of expanding the family tree were her life not cut short, but all that was taken by cops not reading addresses properly and firing in a way Steyn demonstrated years ago is savage.

Guildofcannonballs said...

My point is the ruling is bullshit because of bullshit words. I, like Rush, use absurdity to illustrate absurdity. Knowing the language being used nonsensically happens not only when I do it ostentatiously but close to all the time is an extrapolation I try to encourage others to make by, like a slot machine, giving out some jackpot winners every now and then too along with the gibberish, never in a pattern though.

Puten Curry said...

People here either are forgetting how ignorant they were at that age, or, perhaps they were born old and wise?

Most kids have no idea of their mortality, or any concept of their body breaking. Which is why it's good to have a few older people around.

If you don't, they stuff like that is bound to happen, and always has. I had a few friends at that age who died or got severely injured to falling drunk off balconies, bridges and stairs, or driving cars and even cycling.

No-one in that group meant any harm, and calling 911 for every drunk is also not an option, especially if drinking to Nirvana stage is common. Plus, how much for the ambulance? If it's 1000 bucks just to check that things are ok, the person who called them is not going to be very popular.

What probably has happened is that they drank spirits instead of wine and beer, and possibly popped a few pills too.

Also, I see nobody mention that the victim had some self responsibility, for example, not to drink to this kind of excess.

Which is ok, because in a way, adults expecting kids (and with 18 they still are nowadays) to have common sense is quite a silly request in itself.

And what adult is stupid enough to let 18 year old kids get drunk on unlimited spirits without adult supervision anyway?

If you put anyone in to the dock over this, it's the staff that runs (or not!) that part of the university services.

Big Mike said...

@Puten, he was a drunk who had fallen down a flight of stairs!

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

I lived in Québec for many years and raised my sons there. The functional drinking age in public is about 10 or 12 -- they can't purchase alcohol, but in a restaurant or sidewalk café they can consume it when with family members. Some places (at least 30 years ago) would provide small glasses for the young'uns. In many homes, including mine, the criterion was "can you hold a cup steadily enough not to spill it." For the toddlers, wine was often cut with water, but they all learned from a very young age that alcohol was contextual: meals, quiet social gatherings, and the like.

We, and most other parents, explained the relation of alcohol to body weight, and I still remember a growing son point out to me (at about 8 yo) that he was no longer 1/4 my body weight, but 1/3 ... so he could have a touch more, please. Alcohol was not "forbidden fruit" and youth grew up understanding that in moderation is was a normal part of life.

Two huge results: you almost never encountered completely shit-faced teenagers, and DUI incidents were quite rare at any age. Heck, I've been in a number of Québec government office where the morning break included a touch of wine to go along with cheese, pickled eel, and whatever other good thing the workers brought in to share. The wine would come out again at lunch, and at afternoon break.

I would suggest that America -- where some 30-plus percent of the population supports a return to Prohibition -- has a serious cultural problem with alcohol. My in-laws are from western and central Europe, where the description I gave above would also seem totally normal.

So I declare that American prohibitionists are an "accessory before the fact" of the terribly unfortunate situation which is the topic of the post.

Gordon Scott said...

When I was a pledge back in 1978, there was one night during Hell Week (the week before initiation) when some of the actives ordered us to drink a bottle of Mogen David wine, a.k.a. Mad Dog. The point was to get us to throw up while drunk apparently. I refused. Most pledges would not, then or now. Now, it's something that could get your charter withdrawn, get the group kicked off campus, and possibly prosecuted. Then, it was just bad behavior.

There are wiser heads. But there are also idiot heads, and this may be their one time to Be In Charge of Humiliation. If the wiser heads are asleep, well, the idiots are running things. Fraternity officers are specifically trained on how to avoid such situations, and the consequences. But hazing is persistent.

Mostly the actives weren't drunk, or weren't drunk enough to have lost all reason. These guys knew the kid was in trouble. They were afraid of the exposure from bringing in help.
Banning hazing and imposing criminal liability creates the unintended consequence. "He'll sleep it off. They always have before, right? Don't be airing our dirty laundry...."

Gordon Scott said...

Bart Hall wrote, "I would suggest that America -- where some 30-plus percent of the population supports a return to Prohibition -- has a serious cultural problem with alcohol. My in-laws are from western and central Europe, where the description I gave above would also seem totally normal."

Yeah, it was that way in England in the early 1980s. One rarely saw a staggering drunk. But things have changed over there. I'm not sure what happened to change that culture.

Puten Curry said...

Big Mike,

Young men just do not have an idea of how fragile they are, or, even that death is a final event. Risk is just something that young men crave (and why we now live in houses instead of nests in trees).

What about people who join the army knowing they'll end up in a war zone? Or what about the modern kids who don jump suits and end up embedded in mountains? All whilst totally sober.

Falling over whilst drunk is safe in comparison, and at that age, people still have a Tom and Jerry cartoon view of reality. Adulthood usually only arrives reliably when wisdom teeth erupt...

JAORE said...

Minor compared to the group action, but:

When he tried to convince another brother to call 911, the new member was told he was crazy.

Did this kid NOT have a cell phone? Pathetic. He knows action is needed. He knows WHAT action is needed. He won't act himself but wants others to act.

Todd Galle said...

This is a very tragic situation, which i think has many fathers. When the colleges and universities abandoned the 'in loco parentis' mindset in the 60s and 70s, guidance came from student's peers, not adults. No RA is going to be a 'house mother'. As was mentioned above, the 21 drinking age limit results in clandestine drinking with a reluctance to report possibly dangerous situations. I was in a fraternity in the mid-1980s at a small central PA college. When we had parties, several senior members were to abstain from drinking and monitor the party. If they saw something, they were almost always able to deal with it. The campus security were not overly officious, and would assist as necessary, glad that we were being at least semi responsible. The present day no-tolerance crap removes this option. This no tolerance also applies to what is considered hazing. My fraternity did not haze in the traditional sense. We were required to learn the names, home towns, majors, and two facts about each brother, and attend mandatory study halls, where upperclassmen from various majors would be available for tutoring. By the time I left, these study halls were considered a hazing violation due to their mandatory nature. Never mind the fact that i know of at least 7 members whose college success was predicated on those study halls.

Anthony said...

Well, I'm sure they didn't intend to do that to him and Comey has assured me that that's okay then.

RigelDog said...

This is so awful and terrifying and personal, on many levels. I went to Penn State, and my share of frat parties. I was also an official "Little Sister" at a fraternity. Beta Theta Pi was maybe THE premier fraternity in a school that has an unbelievably strong fraternity tradition. People got falling-down and black-out drunk in frats and out of frats. You didn't know how sick or injured they were and it just didn't compute to call an ambulance. My son just graduated from Penn State, and was a member of a fraternity. Heavy drinking is still part of campus life, in frats and out of frats. People fall down, these kids don't realize the true danger. They honestly DO NOT KNOW that people die from this shit. And the knowledge that this poor boy was probably able to be saved if a real adult had been present and knew what was going on is just infuriating. And yet, if my son had this happen at HIS frat, I would like to think that he would have done something about it, but it's just not likely. He could have been the pledge that was dead. He could have been the brother that is charged with murder.

RigelDog said...

One more note: over Christmas break, my son went out with his local friends, all recent college grads. They made the rounds of some bars and ended up at an apartment party where they were somewhat split up...not knowing what "Brian" was up to. Apparently Brian was drinking a whole lot in a short amount of time. These young men basically dragged Brian out of the party and into an Uber. He was walking and talking, but by the time they got to my house, Brian had to be pulled out of the car and lay passed out insensate on our driveway. These young men cared about their friend, they hadn't abandoned him, but they had no idea what to do. I didn't know for sure either. We didn't know what he had imbibed, or if he had fallen and gotten injured, or if he'd taken some drugs. We just knew that he was breathing ok but was otherwise completely unresponsive. Had he been conscious enough to make it into my house, they would have seen him to our spare room and figured it would be ok, and he could have woken up dead. I made the tough decision to call 911 and they took him off to the hospital, where he was released after several hours of treatment and observation. Huge ambulance bill; major disruption of his parent's lives being called out in the middle of the night. Can't call the ambulance every time a person drinks so much they pass out...but it might be the time that they never wake up. How do you know? How do you take on that decision when you are 20?

Featherless Biped said...

It's easy to see why Prohibition was enacted: some of the most egregiously stupid, aggressive, transgressive, and irresponsible behavior is fueled by consumption of large amounts of alcohol. Supposedly, at the time Prohibition was passed, public drunkenness was a major isse --a frequent cause of workplace injury and death, as well as motor vehicle accidents and domestic violence.

It's infuriating to see people behave this way.