Getting It Right The First Time


Sometimes you don't get a second chance.

Every day we make dozens of decisions without even a flicker of hesitation or a moment's pause to consider the consequences. And let's face it, in most cases the consequences aren't worth pausing to consider. Do you use your Crest Extra-Whitening or your roommate's Colgate Total? Cut through the Lovejoy tunnel or go around? Lunch in Foss or Dana? Butter or cream cheese on your bagel?

But there are also some seemingly routine moments when there is more riding on the hasty decisions we make. Hitting Send on the angry email you wrote to your English professor after getting a "C" on a paper. Punching the gas to get through an intersection as the light is turning red. Embellishing your grade point average during a job interview. Hooking up with someone you just met when you're drunk.

Most of the time things work out. You re-call the angry email or apologize to the professor. You get through the intersection safely. You get a different job where they know your actual GPA. You decide that maybe you're going to just go back to your own room when the party's over. Most of the time the worst doesn't happen.

But not always.

Sometimes things go wrong. Sometimes people get hurt. And most of the time when things go bad in those moments for students at Colby alcohol is involved.

You don't have to take my word for it. Take your own.

According to the results of the NESCAC Alcohol Survey that 72% of Colby students completed last spring, 44% of Colby students did something they later regretted last year because they'd been drinking. That's roughly 830 students. Fourteen percent - 250 -  had unprotected sex. Twelve percent - 220 - had an unwanted sexual experience.

My message isn't that alcohol is bad. I'm not saying don't drink. You get to make your own determinations and choices about if and how you are going to drink.

More importantly, sexual assault is never the result of careless behavior regardless of whether or not alcohol is involved. Sexual assault is a violent crime for which perpetrators bear all responsibility. Full stop.

What I'm saying is that more often than not moments of great consequence sneak up on you. They're embedded in what feels ordinary and easy and like no big deal until suddenly it's not.

What I'm saying is that we care about you. What I'm saying is we want you to have fun and enjoy all aspects of your life here. What I'm saying is we want you to be safe. What I'm saying is we want you to care for yourselves and each other in all moments.

Life is going to keep happening. Your days will always be peppered with decisions about toothpaste and condiments and red lights and drinking and love interests. And if you take just a little time to consider what consequences may be right in front of you then your chances of having fun and staying safe go up exponentially.

Set some limits before you start partying.

Look out for your friends and make sure they are looking out for you.

Intervene when you see someone who is heading into a potentially risky situation.

Know about the support services and resources and policies that exist here (see the Student Affairs and College Policies and Procedures pages and related links on the Colby website for details).

Don't ever hesitate to call for help any time you feel unsafe or unsure. We all need help every once in a while. The courageous choice is to ask for it.

Sometimes you don't get a second chance. But most of the time with a little forethought and looking out for yourself and your friends you won't need one.

Jim Terhune
Dean of Students

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