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Virginia Tech Alcohol Task Force: You need a new approach!

February 8, 2011

A snippet from the recent Roanoke Times article:

“A fledgling task force at Virginia Tech hopes to curb heavy drinking and its harmful fallout on college campuses after the deaths of two students this school year in the New River Valley.

Advocates for alcohol safety say they intend to tackle the issue from a health and medical perspective, leaving law enforcement to continue its supervision of underage students, bars and retailers.”

  I’d also like to ask my blog viewers if they are familiar with Einstein’s famous definition of insanity: 

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.   

“…Reported that Thomas Ryan Hauser, 23, was found by roommates in his off-campus apartment Sunday morning. After Thomas and some friends had been barhopping, drinking beer and liquor from about 9 p.m. Saturday until about 2 a.m. Sunday, the friends carried him back from a bar and put him on his right side on the living room floor to let him sleep it off.   When the friends attempted to wake Thomas the next morning, they found he had died.

Also reported that two other college students were hospitalized over the weekend for alcohol poisoning, but both recovered….”

That occured in 2004.  I’m not Albert Einstein, but I believe the advocates for alcohol safety (whoever they are) need a new approach… the current one isn’t working.  The statement released to the Roanoke Times sounds like a tidy way of shifting responsibility, onto someone elses shoulders. 

An increase in repercussions will lessen the problem.

My response to an earlier reader’s comment pretty much sums up the situation.


For the record, I’m no prude and I’m not a teetotaler. Bulldog does enjoy an alcoholic beverage from time to time: beer, wine, whiskey, whatever. However, I’d like to think I know my limits, and I’m certainly not attempting to climb onto rooftops.

I also don’t want to come across as unsympathetic or malicious towards Mr. David Gayle. His family is going through a rough enough time, and I certainly take no pleasure in his unfortunate demise. My issue is with Virginia Tech.  They are well aware that the alcohol situation with the student body has gotten out of control. There are PLENTY of articles floating around on the internet documenting the problem, and people who one way or another have wound up injured, dead, arrested, etc due to alcohol related incidents.

In fact, if I was Mr. Gayles parents I’d be looking into what’s known as “contributory negligence” statutes in Virginia. Bulldog is not a lawyer, it is however my understanding that property owners have a responsiblity to address safety issues at their respective properties which present a risk to the public. I would seek out evidence of other party/alcohol related incidents in the past, and speak to a good attorney. I also would want to learn as much as possible about what transpired at the time of Mr. Gayles accident.

Perhaps if Virginia Tech made an effort to clamp down on these parties, Mr. Gayle would be alive and in class this morning.

Here is a direct quote from an recent article in the Washington Times:

“At Virginia Tech, where tailgating and raucous apartment-complex parties are time-honored rituals, university officials are turning increasingly to Mom and Dad to curb problem underage drinking. ”

That’s quite a strong statement for a respected conservative publication to make don’t you think?

“…raucous apartment-complex parties are time-honored rituals….”

Virginia Tech administration is well aware of the problem.

I respectfully disagree with your statement that there is no remedy. The Campus Alcohol Abuse Prevention Center, has mentioned a number of times at both Town and Gown meetings, as well as in media releases that Virginia Tech has (and enforces) a student code of conduct policy. That supposedly is the whole purpose behind informing the parents as well as their anonymous alcohol abuse tip hotline… so that the student code of conduct can be enforced.

I have discussed the matter with Dr. Clarke several times. A good overview of my feelings on the matter are readily available in my recent blog posting:

The bottom line is if Virginia Tech truly desires to address the problem, they must adopt a proactive approach. Virginia Tech could easily enlist the services of a private investigator to document these parties: where they were, what was observed, public view images of the intoxicated party-goers. These parties spill out into the streets, onto the balconies, lots of visible locations. What good are these anonymous phone calls at 1am complaining about a party, if no one follows through at the time of the complaint?

 They would then have hard core evidence to use in their judicial referral proceedings, and/or to give a warning to the students in question.

Do I honestly expect Virginia Tech to enlist MY services in this manner? NO. I would be quite shocked. I sincerely doubt that VT administration would consider doing business with someone bringing so much attention to this sensative issue. President Steger is not going to invite me over for a cup of coffee and a chat.

Truthfully, I have likely cost myself business with Tech Alumni, and others associated with the University. Virginia Tech is nothing if not a political organization. I’m likely viewed by VT administration as an frustrating activist, but as I stated elsewhere, sometimes you do the right thing because it is indeed the right thing to do. This problem will not subside or lessen by remaining ignored. That’s really my whole point in a nutshell.

If Virginia Tech really plans to start enforcing the code of student conduct for off campus behaviors (which they have stated is within their power), then they are going to need strong evidence of these violations. I can assure you that depending on the seriousness of the accusation, some students (or their parents) will bring in legal representation.

I don’t think much remains for me to discuss on the matter. What was it, a week ago that a student was stabbed at another party? If I’m not mistaken the week before that two separate students wound up with alcohol related injuries by stepping out in front of moving vehicles. The press was very careful in how they presented the accident information. “Alcohol did not appear to be a factor with the driver, but it may of been with the pedestrian.” Everyone seemingly wants to tiptoe on this issue.

As for the off campus property owners themselves, refer to my other blog posting. The attitude presented to me was one of ambivalence, along with the philosophy that student tenants rent off campus precisely to party. Make no mistake, the situations I’m referring to are not just a few friends over for a friendly beer.

Additionally, I’ve noticed that alot of these incidents (the injured girl, the stabbing victim, and so on) involve underage students. Call me cynical, but I doubt that the hosts are checking drivers licenses for proof of age as the guests enter. So, we’re also dealing with jailable offenses (although I would be somewhat surprised if the hosts even recieve a citation).

The hosts of these parties may hit guests up for between 5 and 10 dollars to attend (and drink), but I believe that’s pretty much the only requirement.


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