When I started high school in 2007, my parents sat me down and made me promise them I would never drink and drive. Even though I didn’t indulge at that age, they must have thought it was important enough to stress, and they probably knew there would be some peer pressure to drink in the years ahead.
Likewise, my high school equally emphasized the importance of having a designated driver if drinking was ever to occur. Keeping these things in mind, I promised myself if there were ever a time when a friend needed a ride home, I would always be there to pick them up.
So when I heard a North Andover High School (Mass.) senior, Erin Cox, was reprimanded for picking up her intoxicated friend, I was confused. How could she get in trouble for trying to give someone a safe ride home? She was summoned to appear in court, stripped of her captain spot on the volleyball team and suspended for five games.
In my opinion, Cox was simply doing what she thought was right. If she hadn’t responded to her friend, that person could have driven home and hurt somebody else. Cox was exuding some serious reliability and loyalty by making the effort to get her friend home safely. So why does it seem like she made the wrong choice?
If she were drinking prior to picking up her friend, I could completely understand why she would have to go to court. If that was the case, she wasn’t showing leadership and was representing her school poorly. But she wasn’t drinking. The officer on scene even vouched for her sobriety, although it came with no change.
The school then stripped her of her captaincy and suspended her for five games after they heard the police were involved. I find this course of action extremely contradicting. My high school preached the importance of safe drinking and I’m assuming Cox’s school is no different since underage drinking is a national issue.
UW-Eau Claire Police Sgt. Chris Kirchman said he was also confused about what Cox would have been cited for if she wasn’t consuming alcohol. He said some schools have purely school-related violations that could have played a factor.
“If we come across a designated driver, obviously, if they’ve had nothing to drink they wouldn’t receive any type of alcohol citation if they were underage,” Kirchman said. “I’m very confused how someone could have given her a citation for especially an underage consumption citation when apparently she hadn’t consumed anything.”
The high school reportedly said they were taking a serious stance on alcohol abuse among minors, but Cox didn’t abuse any alcohol. They enforced her punishment because she was around alcohol at the time. She was doing the responsible thing. She was only trying to get her friend home. By reprimanding her, the school is actually preaching the opposite position.
Not only is this the completely wrong course of action, it’s possibly detrimental to others who drink in that area in the future. My stance is that underage drinking will happen regardless of whether there is a law against it or not. The best thing schools can do to combat accidents from happening is preach safe driving and driving.
Since the incident, Cox has served her five game suspension and played her first game back on Friday. With her penalty already served, there isn’t much that can be done to reverse the outrageous charge. Although, it doesn’t seem like the school or the local government there had any plans of reversing it anyway.