Erin Cox, High School Senior, Punished for Being Designated Driver

    October 15, 2013

Many adults often complain about future generations of children, saying they are immature and do not understand responsibility. While this may be true, there could be an external reason as to why kids struggle with making decisions.

Two weeks ago, North Andover High School decided to suspend Erin Cox, senior and captain of the school’s volleyball team, for helping her intoxicated friend.

Cox had just finished work at the Andover Inn and had met with some friends at the local yogurt shop when she received a text from a friend stating that she had had too much to drink at a party and needed a ride home. Worried that her friend may try to take herself home or seek a ride with a fellow drunk, Erin decided the best course of action would be to give her friend a ride home.

Unfortunately for Erin, the night would not be uneventful. Shortly after arriving at the party, police showed up at the scene and arrested 12 underage drunks, along with summoning another 15 to court for drinking.

An officer at the scene cleared Erin of any wrongdoing, giving Erin’s mother a letter stating her sobriety.

Despite the fact that Erin was being a responsible adult and coming to the aid of a friend in need, the school decided to uphold its zero-tolerance alcohol policy and punished Erin – She was stripped of her role as captain of the volleyball team and suspended for the next 5 games.

“She’s very fragile and I’m worried about her. Very worried about her. She didn’t do anything wrong,” stated Cox’s mother.

The incident has put a damper on Erin’s senior year experience: “I just feel very defeated. When you’re in high school you’re supposed to stay perfect and be perfect, but everyone makes mistakes.” Despite feeling defeated, however, Erin still stands by her decision: “I felt like going to get her was the right thing to do. Saving her from getting in the car when she was intoxicated and hurt herself or getting in the car with someone else who was drinking. I’d give her a ride home.”

So what exact rule did Erin violate? The North Andover school handbook is very explicit in its alcohol policy, only indicting those who are intimately involved with the possession, use, or distribution of the substance:

Andover Alcohol Rule #1

However, there is a special condition in the handbook for those who hold leadership positions in extracurricular activities:

Andover Alcohol Rule #2

There are so many issues with this entire situation. First, why the double standard for “normal” students and those in leadership positions? Of course, one wants the leaders to be role models, but wasn’t Erin exhibiting her leadership abilities when she decided to help her friend?

Secondly, how is this strict prohibition on being involved or near alcohol in any way preparing these students for the future? In under one year, Erin will be headed to college, where she will be constantly surrounded by illegal activities? Is a zero-tolerance policy the best way to teach students how to handle these situations? How can one know what to do if they have never had to face the situation before?

The future generation of adults may in fact be less mature than their predecessors. However, one should look to the reasons why and address the cause. In this case, it is fairly evident that coddling adults and conservatism are to blame. So you Baby Boomers can complain all you want, but remember – you created these monsters through your strict moral limitations and conservative ideologies.

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