Last May, Beta Theta Pi fraternity implemented what is now being referred to as its “Good Samaritan” policy regarding alcohol use. Beta intends to pay any brother’s medical costs incurred by an overnight stay in Dick’s House or the hospital due to overconsumption of alcohol. As Beta’s Spring term president pointed out to The Dartmouth in June, “Students at Dartmouth — the Betas especially — have had a lot of drinking experience.”
Despite such extensive knowledge about the effects of alcohol, brothers, and others, still get drunk, and sometimes they need medical care. So now, if you are in Beta, you will get it for free.
The original Good Samaritan, as you know, was a man discussed in a parable in Luke’s Gospel. The Samaritan, unlike a priest and a Levite before him, stopped on his journey to help a man wounded by thieves. The basic moral of the story is partially taken to be that it is good to help other people.
The Good Samaritan clause of the College’s alcohol policy is based upon this story, in that it implies that helping a drunken friend places you in the same league as the man in the parable. Therefore, if you help someone in need, you will not be subject to disciplinary action yourself (assuming that you have also been drinking). It acts to encourage people to get help for their dangerously drunk friends by using a system of immunity.
Beta’s new policy is a different sort of take on the Good Samaritan story. While the original parable indicates that the do-gooder will get his reward in heaven, and the College rewards nouveau Good Samaritans with immunity, Beta has decided to take on the role of the Samaritan for itself.
Except something isn’t right — Beta isn’t really a Good Samaritan at all. In reality, Beta is simply forming its own insurance group. Everyone pays, and there is universal coverage.
In a sense, Beta’s new policy turns the biblical moral on its head. While the biblical character was committed to selflessly helping someone else, Beta’s motive is purely one of self interest.
Although the fraternity claims to be concerned for the health of its members, the true cause of Beta’s worry is inconvenient financial penalties, which may prove to be an unpleasant result of binge drinking.
As Beta’s Spring president pointed out, Dartmouth students, as a group, do have a good amount of drinking experience. As an unfortunate consequence, many students drink too much or too often and require medical attention. The problem in this scheme is rarely that students are afraid to seek the care that they need — rather, it is that they drink too much to begin with.
Of course, as it is often said, college students everywhere drink, often excessively. Dartmouth is not different, except that its drinking may be even more extreme and more overt. But most of the Coed Fraternity Sorority system does not seem to want to focus on the problem of abuse.
Every weekend at parties, someone drinks, acts stupid, hooks up, vomits, blacks out or passes out. Sometimes people go to the Dick’s House, the hospital or jail. People also drink and drive. These are incidents of alcohol abuse that are not effectively addressed by the monitoring system, the attempts to educate students or especially Beta’s new policy.
While lessening the effects of drinking can be, in some situations, a worthy cause, it should not be the only one. The new focus of the CFS system should be to lessen the predominance of alcohol-related parties on this campus.
Right now, the system seems to accept its role as just a place to get drunk when the weekend comes around.
Rather than embracing this charge, Beta should stop its brothers from ever needing to go to Dick’s House, not pave the way in beer and paid bills.