One of the first lessons I ever learned – and still to this day
remember – is that if I don’t have anything nice to say then I
shouldn’t say anything at all.
Years have passed since I first heard that motto, and while I
have never forgotten it, I still have trouble remembering to live
by it. It’s not easy to live by such standards, especially when the
whole world around me seems to shun that golden rule as well.
Americans love to gossip and we enjoy having reasons to talk
about someone. While this involves discussing people we know, (and
admit it because it’s true) most often the talking revolves around
people who aren’t in our immediate circle. Bad-mouthing has become
a form of entertainment we tend to rely on when we’re alone and
when we are with friends. Why else would Britney Spears’ Las Vegas
wedding get coverage?
So we can discuss how pathetic and unintelligent the decision
was, not how happy we were for her.
And why else would every negative aspect about college students
drinking alcohol make headlines?
Troublesome behavior needs to be present in discussions so we
can hold people and things accountable. Recently, CSU students have
been in the media spotlight for underage drinking and its Greek
Life system. Why?
Because the media know that the majority of adults aren’t
comfortable with underage drinking. Because only 6 percent of CSU
students are Greek, so most students and alumni don’t understand
every aspect of that lifestyle. And because the consequences of
binge drinking are alarming, and we all know that America loves to
use scare tactics.
As a result, people become uncomfortable, frightened and
confused, and they start reacting in ways they normally would not.
Case and point, and hitting closest to home, is CSU sophomore
Samantha Spady’s tragic death. As it should have, the news
surrounding her death seemed to stop CSU students in their
At first it got people thinking. Students began to consider the
consequences of party behaviors, and it was an important reality
check for us all. However, in the weeks that followed, and
unfortunately as more alcohol-related deaths occurred in
fraternities at other universities in the state, severe actions
The Sigma Pi Fraternity was kicked off campus. Citations were
handed out to students and friends of Spady. A task force was
created to examine CSU’s drinking culture. And considered most
harsh by some, beer sales were suspended from Sonny Lubick Field at
Hughes Stadium. While all these actions may be considered overkill
(or by some, a weak attempt) it is how we, students and community
members, reacted to them that is truly something to consider. In
response to the harsh actions, we began to place blame, get angry
and say things that were anything but nice because we didn’t know
what else to do.
It makes me sick to think that I have actually heard people
discuss these late students in a heartless manner. It saddens me to
hear blame placed upon fellow students for a tragic death that, if
possible, would have been stopped. Will these unkind remarks solve
anything? Will placing fault bring Spady and the other students
back? Or seemingly – and sadly just as important – bring the booze
back to Hughes?
Personally, as a 21-year-old senior, I would like to drink at
football games and still be able to figure out the ways to prevent
any more alcohol-related deaths. But as important as expressing our
opinion is, it’s imperative at times to remember that lesson
learned long ago – either say something nice or say nothing at all.
Because when it comes down to it, we are all just a small part of
the bigger picture, and we can help by being supportive of each
There are times when life just isn’t fair. It isn’t fair that
students had to die because they didn’t know their limits. It isn’t
fair that blame is being handed out like candy. And while it isn’t
fair that thousands are punished for the mistakes of a few,
badmouthing the situation or the people involved won’t solve
anything. Life can be made a little nicer if we remember that
sometimes it is better to just shut it, or only say the nice
Kelly Hagenah is a senior speech communications major. Her
column runs every Wednesday in the Collegian.