Walk or drive?

Why should students be punished for making a safe decision?

There has been a lot of talk lately about issues with students getting MIPs and whether or not Ferris Department of Public Safety has been fair to them.

I do not advocate excessive partying or binge drinking, but let’s be real: This is college, and many students, underage and legal age, are going to drink. That’s not what I’m focusing on though – I’m looking at the safety aspect.

If a student chooses to walk home after they have been drinking, I believe that is a smart decision. It is much safer than getting behind the wheel of a car and putting their lives and the lives of others in jeopardy.

While walking home intoxicated does pose its own risks, I don’t believe it is as dangerous as putting the keys into the ignition. If a student is indeed too intoxicated to walk, I don’t think they will make it very far walking home.

That being noted, I don’t believe students should be punished if DPS or local police stop them while walking home. I have heard students have been stopped while they were walking on the streets of Big Rapids at night while sober. I understand law enforcement may be just checking on the individual(s) to see if they are OK, but if they have been drinking and are cited for it, how are they going to feel about making intelligent decisions in the future?

I have heard students say that because they fear being stopped by the police after a night of drinking, they choose to drive home instead of walking. I think it is ridiculous that some students are that afraid of being stopped that they choose to take that lethal risk. What does this say about the local law enforcement?

Yes, there are designated drivers and local taxi services that are safe alternatives; however, there is not always going to be that alternative available at every event where people are drinking. Taxi services cost money, and individuals are not always going to have $5 or $10 to spend on them.

I am not bashing Big Rapids DPS, Ferris DPS, the State Police, or any other local law enforcement. I have a tremendous amount of respect for our local law enforcement. I am grateful for them and thankful for their duties and the protection they give to the community. I am focusing on the issues that could arise from students being afraid to make the safest decision because they feel they will get in trouble for making the most responsible decision.

I have been informed of the incidents in the past involving alcohol-related student deaths and the measures the university and local DPS officials have had to take to prevent similar tragedies from occurring again. That makes plenty of sense and I’m very glad nothing like that has happened recently due to those measures.

However, I don’t believe students, underage or 21 and over, should be punished if they choose to walk home after a night of drinking. At least they are not on the streets operating their vehicles, where much more damage can be done.


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