Tuesday, April 30, 2013

First world problems: I'd rather die than be required to stop overdosing

Harvard students ask a question for the ages: how do you expect me to get medical care when I have made myself dangerously ill (again) if I have to have "awkward" encounters with the medical staff? This is unjust. I am entitled to unlimited alcohol poisoning treatment, no questions asked. When you say "no consequences" for showing up unconscious at urgent care, you need to be consistent: no consequences, even if it's my third time there this week:
Several others said that the policy—along with the prospect of further meetings with deans and parents—may be a deterrent in deciding whether to seek help. “There’s a thought of, ‘Why bring them to UHS if I can take care of them better myself?’ That way they have no disciplinary issues to deal with,” said Adam O. Brodheim ’16. 
Juan E. Bedoya ’16 said that he has taken care of several friends who were inebriated, but chose not to take them to University Health Services because of the potential awkwardness of talking to an administrator after an incident relating to alcohol. 
Another freshman, who was granted anonymity by The Crimson to protect her roommate’s privacy, said she has been hesitant to use UHS after her roommate’s second trip to Stillman Infirmary. “The Dean in our Yard gave her the ultimatum that if she had to go one more time there would be serious repercussions,” she said. “So even though she has abused alcohol in a scary and dangerous way since then, my friends and I don’t want to take her to UHS because we don’t want to be the reason she gets asked to leave.”
And they do have a point, in their blockheaded way. The university's claim to "encourage students to place health and safety above all else" is ambiguous. Is prioritizing health and safety a matter of prevention, or of emergency treatment? Some might say that one way to place health and safety above all else is to assume that personal responsibility is possible, and to punish unhealthy and unsafe behavior like drug use and binge drinking accordingly. But Harvard disagrees, presumably because it believes that unhealthy and unsafe behavior is so widespread and unavoidable that the only option is to intervene in emergencies to prevent fatalities arising from irresponsibility, since death is the most unhealthy outcome of all. Perhaps a commitment to emergency intervention is at odds with emergency prevention? In the meantime, those who prefer the homeopathic remedies of college freshmen for their alcohol poisoning are encouraged to befriend the individuals interviewed for this article.


Emily Hale said...

" death is the most unhealthy outcome of all." Great line.

Alpheus said...

I'm inclined to see this situation as an absurdity arising from our society's insistence on treating 18-year-olds as adults with respect to everything but the right to drink. I suspect the only reason alcohol abuse is an administrative/disciplinary issue (as opposed to a medical one) is that Harvard doesn't want to be held legally responsible for some student's brain damage or death.

Miss Self-Important said...

EH: Thanks, provided by absurdity of life.

Alpheus: Maybe, but colleges and not society have wrought this particular absurdity, and the posture of colleges towards their students is more ambiguous than the presumption of adulthood at 18. (Consider, for example, the discrepancy between most colleges' understanding of rape and sexual assault and the law's.) Society, at least insofar as it speaks through the law, says that we will give you medical care for your drug overdoses and alcohol poisonings b/c we don't actually want you to die from them, but once you're feeling better, we'll charge you with illegal possession or cite you for underage drinking. Harvard (and other universities) says, "What's this 'illegal' you speak of?"