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It’s that time of year again.  High school students are taking SATs and sending applications to colleges of their choices.  These students are bright, self reliant and highly motivated.  However, we can’t forget that, in many respects, they are still children and, in addition to facing new academic challenges, they will also face new social challenges and peer pressure.

Recently, the former president of a fraternity at Rider University settled a lawsuit with parents of a pledge who drank himself to death.  Gary DeVercelly, Jr., a pledge for Phi Kappa Tau, attended a fraternity party where he drank almost a full bottle of vodka and passed out.  He was taken to a Trenton Hospital where he was was pronounced dead and found to have a  blood alcohol level of .426, which is more than five times the legal limit.

The responsibility to provide a safe academic environment for students rests with the colleges and universities they attend; however, the responsibility to ensure that our sons and daughters are prepared for the new social challenges that college brings rests with parents as well.  Children need to be made aware that while college will be a challenging and exciting time in their lives, excessive drinking or use of illicit drugs can have life long consequences or, as in this case, result in death.  

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