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The Duties of Friendship

Thursday, Feb. 5, 2009

The death in December of an 18-year-old Cal Poly student, who suffered respiratory arrest due to alcohol poisoning, highlights a problem facing campuses across the country.  One aspect of that problem is the responsibility of roommates or others who suspect that drinking may have gone too far but don't want to create problems for their friends.  Center student worker Rebecca Fox-Bivona created this case to encourage discussion of the issue:

It had been a long second week of freshman year. Roommates Sally and Morgan were ready for the weekend. It was Friday night and they had heard about an upcoming party, so they decided to check it out. The girls went to the party where there was a plentiful amount of beer available. As the night progressed, Morgan started to feel sick and so the girls went back to their dorm. When they got back, Morgan passed out next to the sink…

Sally wasn’t sure of what she should do. She had heard that there were EMT’s (Emergency Medical Technicians) on campus to help in this situation, but she’d also heard that when you called the EMT’s you got fined and “written up.” She didn’t want to get Morgan in trouble but she thought her friend might be really sick.

Should Sally call the EMT’s and risk Morgan being angry that she has to pay a fine? Or should she opt for saving her friend from the fine at the risk of her getting sicker?