Devastating Decisions

Our University commenced a week-long Spring break when classes concluded last Friday.  My students will have a week off, including weekends, about a 10 day vacation.  As my classes winded down on Friday, I took my last thirty seconds to deliver my usual words of admonition.  They went something like this:

“Students, you’ll be off for a few days.  As a favor to me, while you’re on break, please remember three things.  First, don’t drink and drive.  If you’re even a little “buzzed” park your car and call a cab.  Second, don’t get into any car if the driver has been drinking.  Finally, always wear your seat belt when you’re in an automobile.”

George Bolon, a retired physics professor at Winona State University, used to deliver the same message in a more clever way.  Before breaks he would tell his students to make sure they don’t make any D-D’s.  D-D stands for “Devastating Decisions.”  Devastating Decisions, as Bolon would explain, “are decisions that may lead to a negative life-altering future.”

There is a tendency for young people to believe that debilitating car crashes are something that always happens to the other guy.  Alcohol doesn’t mix well with driving, hill climbing, or walking near lakes or rivers.  But alcohol need not be present.  Texting at the wheel (or texting when walking across the street for that matter) can lead to death or dismemberment.

In my 34 years at Winona State University we’ve lost one or two students each year to automobile accidents.  In a few cases the students were sober, seat belted, and acting responsibly.  Unfortunately, in most of those cases they weren’t wearing a seat belt and alcohol was involved.  In all of these deaths, the human misery created for families and friends is unspeakable.

Out of a genuine concern for his students, Professor George Bolon gave his DD speech for over 40 years.  As long as I teach at Winona State University I’ll give my similar spiel for the same reason.  Maybe the students will listen to us more than they listen to their parents.  Most important, maybe they will save their parents untold sorrow and grief by realizing that responsible actions on their part might save their lives.

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