Editorial: Don’t feel obligated to drink

In theory, everybody knows not to drink too much.

What “too much” means can be a little fuzzy, especially when it varies on height, weight and gender, or when you’re at a party and feel expected to knock back a few, or when it’s a holiday and you want to let loose. But we’ve all gotten the informational packets and talks, the stern lectures from family members and doctors. And if you haven’t seen the posters, surveyed NIU students reportedly drink responsibly.

Except sometimes all that knowledge — packets, talks, lectures — flies out the window as you’re handed a shot … and then another. It’s easy to feel the pressure there is to take that shot. What stronger reminder than what happened at this time last year: According to autopsy results, David Bogenberger, a 19-year-old freshman, had a blood-alcohol content of 0.351 percent when he died in November 2012. The legal driving limit is .08. An autopsy determined the student “had an enlarged heart, and the amount of alcohol he consumed triggered arrhythmia” that led to his death.

Bogenberger’s family has sued members of the fraternity where he was found, and the lawsuit alleges the night before Bogenberger was found unresponsive the fraternity held a “Mom and Dad’s Night” where pledges were expected to drink copious amounts of alcohol.

“We have no desire for revenge,” Bogenberger’s family said in a statement. “Rather, we hope that some significant change will come from David’s death. Alcohol poisoning claims far too many young, healthy lives. We must realize that young people can and do die in hazing rituals. Alcohol-involved hazing and initiation must end.”

It’s been nearly a year since NIU lost a student to alcohol misuse. As you prepare for this weekend’s festivities, remember the only person who can make the choice to act responsibly and limit — or reject — drinks is you. Say “no” if you’re not interested, feel pressured or if you’re concerned about how much you’ve had to drink. Health Enhancement has tips for staying healthy and acting responsibly online at niu.edu/health/drugs/alcohol/index.shtml.

The packets and lectures may have been annoying, but they taught us all valuable lessons; don’t throw all that away for one night of irresponsible behavior.