It shouldn't happen to me

Author name
Elizabeth Hoyler, '16

When you ask the average Duke student what they want to do during their free time on a Friday morning, you can bet your bottom dollar that Party-Monitor training is not on the list. I am no exception. So when my SLG mandated that all sophomores head over to the Wellness Center to get said training, I huffed and puffed and went over. I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t think there would be much value in the experience. I thought they would be telling me lots of things I already knew, that it might be patronizing, and worst of all: a total waste of time.

I was wrong.

In college, most of us are experiencing independence like never before. We test our limits, and often that leads us to extremes. (i.e. We act like idiots.) We stay up later than we need to because, finally, no one is telling us to go to bed. We succumb to social pressure, going to some parties not because we feel like it but because we fear being excluded or lame if we don’t. We eat too much. Or far, far too little. We hold ourselves up to the standard of effortless perfection because—after all—everyone else is doing the same thing. From our eyes, everyone else has got good grades. Great body. Love interests and friends up the wah-zoo. Total happiness.

But you know what I’m realizing, Madame perfectly-happy-smart-sexy-all-the time? You don’t exist anywhere on this campus. I don’t care what it looks like. …Yet most of us still expect to be you, and feel all the worse about ourselves when we don’t succeed.

There exists a similar logic for partying hard. Of course we all know that if we drink too much, we could hurt ourselves…or even die. We know, biologically, that we’re not invincible beings. But still, when we go to a party and decide to get hammered, we expect to be invincible just as we expect to be the Sir and Madam Brilliants of the world. Like there is some bubble that protects us from anything bad happening.

We’ve all thought it—that won’t happen to me.

...but it does.

My brother died in an alcohol-related incident in college.

My dear friend sustained a life-long injury due to an accident he had when drunk.

Another close friend was raped after a party.

It’s not that bad stuff won’t happen to you, it’s that it shouldn’t happen to you.

The key to prevention is not to ignore these nightmare scenarios entirely, but to admit they could occur. It’s to step forward. So dudes and ladies, maybe it will make me unpopular to say this, but I’ll do so anyway: Suck it up and spend a couple hours getting Party-Monitor trained. Get PACT trained. Do ALL the training you can! It's how we can each own our role in this community and keep campus safe. And honestly, when framed like that, how can you say no?

Don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying we as a community stop partying or drinking. I’m just saying we do it smart. So we can party the next weekend, and the weekend after that. (If that’s your thing.)

Shit happens. Let’s make sure it doesn’t happen to us.