FORREST ROBINETTE ’16
I’ve often heard the phrase “Friends don’t let friends get TCERTed.” This motto means that if your buddy has had way too much to drink, you shouldn’t call for trained medical help because being TCERTed is a pain. You don’t want to put your friend through the embarrassment, the punishment, or the financial cost of being TCERTed even if he has had a dangerous amount of alcohol. I don’t believe that every student lives by this code, but it seems evident that this attitude does exist on campus to some degree. Students are hesitant to call the emergency response team because it means some very bad consequences.
Firstly, being TCERTed means embarrassment. I don’t think many students consider an extensive TCERT record to be a source of pride. Many a time, I’ve heard negative gossip circulating around “that guy (or girl) who got TCERTed last night.” or, more often, “that freshman who got TCERTed.” It’s evidence of irresponsibility and an inability to hold one’s liquor. In my experience, it’s rarely evidence of being a badass. People who stay in control are always more respected than those who don’t.
Secondly, being TCERTed means almost certain punishment by the college. If a student is under twenty-one, and I assume that many TCERTed students are, the college is very likely to take disciplinary action. And if the student has a record of such behavior, the consequences may be even more severe. Enough alcohol related incidents can eventually spell suspension or expulsion. When someone is TCERTed, the college will know about it. The inevitability of some kind of disciplinary reprocussions is another significant deterrent.
Thirdly, the emergency medical team will send a student to the hospital where he or she will be charged a hefty bill for treatment. Perhaps a student’s stomach has to be pumped to prevent alcohol poisoning and treatment like that is not cheap. The hospital bill, in most cases, would go straight to one’s parents which would make for a fun conversation with mom and dad. Many people avoid calling TCERT as a friend because of these consequences making it an unpopular choice among students. For many students, this is the logical choice and is expected of a good friend. Why would you want to put your buddy through all that stuff? Maybe he hasn’t had that much to drink anyway. Maybe calling TCERT is not necessary. We have to expel these thoughts and doubts and just make the call. No matter how unpleasant being TCERTed is it could be the difference between life and death. The hospital bill, the embarrassment, the disciplinary consequences are all trivial when one’s life is potentially at stake.
I understand why this is a norm for some students on campus. The majority of students here are not medical experts. If I saw an extremely sick friend, I wouldn’t know whether medical action is necessary or not. I wouldn’t want to be that person who unnecessarily called TCERT when my friend wasn’t actually in serious trouble. The fact is that we have to ignore these fears and stigmas because any person’s wellbeing is always the most important priority. No one should ever regret taking precautions to protect a friend’s life.
I would like to take this opportunity to commend the students who are a part of TCERT. I, thankfully, have never required their services or seen them at work, but I still know that they provide a valuable and very selfless service to the entire student body. And from what I’ve seen they go largely unappreciated. I remember receiving a very sad email towards the beginning of the year from a member of TCERT. In the email, a plea was made to the student body to be more respectful to TCERT members while they are at work. The email reminded students that TCERT members are only working to keep students safe and healthy. I realize of course that if a student is in need of TCERT’s services, respect isn’t on the forefront of their mind. However, we should always make an effort to behave respectably towards classmates who are there to help out. Students like those involved in TCERT who take initiative to help others and give up their weekends and nights should be commended, appreciated and respected.
The “friends don’t let friends get TCERTed mentality” is a warped code of honor. Safety and well-being should always take priority over fear of more trivial consequences such as a big hospital bill or punishment from the college. If you see a friend or stranger who looks to be in need of serious medical help, just make the call. The consequences of being TCERTed may be a big pain, but they are nothing compared to the possibility of a student losing their life.