Advertisement

You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

Change culture of college binge drinking: Our View

Campaign aims to take incremental steps toward better decisions

6:07 PM, Oct. 4, 2013  |  Comments
  • Filed Under

We don't know a lot about what Eric Duffey's 21st birthday was like. One of the only things we know for sure is that Duffey did not make it home. We know it was cold on March 3, 2012, when the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point student, on his way home after celebrating with friends, drowned in the Wisconsin River.

We know the celebration involved alcohol. And we know Duffey was by himself when he left Joe's Bar in downtown Stevens Point, where he'd been drinking.

Could his life have been saved if he had been with a friend? It is an impossible question to answer, but at a minimum he would have had a better chance of surviving. A friend might have urged him away from the icy water, or called for help if he fell.

Duffey's parents, Joan and Daren Duffey, are leading a new public awareness campaign with the Portage County Coalition for Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention to encourage young people to use the "buddy system" to watch out for each other when they're drinking. The Duffeys have recorded a radio ad to promote the message; they're speaking in schools and distributing posters and targeted Facebook ads built around it.

The spread of this buddy system would be a small step, but it could be an important one. Incremental steps to increase young people's safety can end up having a big impact - and, as importantly, can serve as inroads for the bigger changes that need to happen at the root of the culture of alcohol.

The Duffeys' loss of their son is unimaginable, and their bravery in speaking out about this issue is impressive. It takes huge efforts to make even small changes happen, and we hope their messages are heard and absorbed by college students and people of all ages.

But they will not be enough. Duffey's death was a tragedy that shook the school and the region. But it was far from an isolated incident. Joan Duffey said there have been 20 similar accidents in Wisconsin since her son's death. That is not counting the Wisconsinites who in the last year and a half have died from drinking too much, from drinking and driving or from violent crimes involving alcohol.

In Eau Claire and La Crosse, people still talk about the imagined serial killer who takes college students, their bodies washing up along the banks of the Chippewa and Mississippi rivers. They talk about it because the truth is harder to face: The killer is the way college students drink alcohol, and what it does to their judgment.

It is up to us - all of us - to keep Duffey's death from becoming routine.

What's your take on the Packers Family Night change?

Retrieving results.
Watching practice is fine.(Your vote)
15%
575 votes
I'd rather watch a scrimmage.(Your vote)
23%
856 votes
I don't want to pay to watch practice.(Your vote)
27%
1017 votes
It doesn't matter to me.(Your vote)
34%
1271 votes

Catch up on the latest in our pregame show every game day.

Football fans

If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports

ORDER YOURS

Football fans

If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports