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Editorial | Intoxicated students should steer clear of windows and rooftops

By Editorial Board
On May 5, 2014

The sun is shining, the birds are singing and for many students in Oxford, this sounds like the perfect scenario for day-drinking and spending time with friends. Enjoying the weather and consuming alcohol usually includes college students sitting on balconies, rooftops and porches to soak up every minute of the last few weekends in Oxford. However, these activities lead to potentially dangerous situations.

Early last Wednesday, sophomore Caroline O'Donnell fell from a third story window to the concrete below, and was admitted to Miami Valley Hospital in serious condition. She is now listed in fair condition.This event is yet another on a long list of tragic accidents relating to student drinking and disregard for safety. O'Donnell simply should not have been able to fall out of a window.

It is the opinion of the editorial board that these incidents should not be happening on any college campus, and students should be actively preventing scenarios such as O'Donnell's by closely watching friends who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Miami University is not the only college campus to see these sorts of incidents. In late March, an Arizona State University first-year fell 10 stories to her death from an apartment balcony. In November, Penn State student Conor MacMannis died after falling from a ninth floor apartment balcony. Then, in January, another Penn State student suffered injuries after falling two stories.

According to a 2010 analysis by major fraternity insurer Willis, slips and falls from heights make up 19 percent of all fraternity liability claims. These data only includes one insurance company gathering information on fraternities, so one can only imagine how high that percentage would be if it included sororities as well as non-Greek students.

A recent article in The Atlantic noted, "Far from being freakish and unpredictable events, fatal and near-fatal falls from fraternity house roofs, balconies, windows and sleeping porches are fairly regular occurrences across the country."

With the number of off-campus houses and apartments that Miami University students inhabit, it's remarkable that these falls haven't been occurring more. How many times have we seen 20 or so individuals sitting on the roof at a house party, clearly intoxicated?

Typing "student falls from balcony" into Google will give you thousands of results from across the country and around the world, and we do not want Miami to be another one of these tragic news pieces.

O'Donnell is fortunate to be alive after her fall, but perhaps the next student to fall will not be so lucky. We encourage students to not engage in these high-risk situations, especially when under the influence of drugs or alcohol that will alter your judgment and reaction times.

Accidents can happen, and alcohol only increases their likelihood. Miami students should take the initiative and learn from incidents such as Caroline O'Donnell's in Oxford, Conor MacMannis's at Penn State and those of the numerous other students across the nation with similar stories.

We need to use what has happened and become a campus where accidental injuries and deaths that could have been prevented are avoided at all cost.

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