Duke tries to educate students about alcohol
Posted September 16, 2011
Durham, N.C. — Duke University officials said Friday that they try to educate students about the risks of drinking alcohol, which makes a Thursday morning wreck that killed a Duke senior hard to accept.
Matthew Grape, 21, of Wellesley, Mass., died when the SUV he was riding in ran off the road at Duke University and Academy roads near campus, hit and tree and overturned, police said.
The driver, Lee Royster, 21, of Hickory, another Duke senior, was charged with driving while impaired. Police are still investigating the wreck to determine whether other charges should be filed.
"It's just horrible when you see one decision that can make such a negative outcome, such a horrendous outcome," said Tom Szigethy, the director of the Duke Student Wellness Center.
Szigethy coordinates programs that warn students of the dangers of alcohol, such as an online course every freshman is required to take.
"If you have students who might make poor choices in drinking or they think they have to drink to socialize, what is it underneath that? What are they afraid of that they need the alcohol in order to socialize with people?" he said.
Sophomore J.P. Senter said he wasn't exposed to heavy drinking in high school and benefited from the online program and Duke's orientation. He said there hasn't been pressure to drink as he expected.
"You can join that atmosphere if you want, but it's not shoved down your face," Senter said. "I think that (the alcohol education courses) helped me see what could happen and the situations that I might be exposed to."
Student Shikha Nayar said she has gone through several forms of training, from how to spot alcohol poisoning to monitoring parties. There is still heavy drinking on campus, she said, but students are more aware of potential dangers.
"I'm not sure how much it's actually changing, but I think more people are aware of it," Nayar said.
Grape's death in a DWI wreck could be the toughest lesson of all for students, she said.
"I think people are pretty shell-shocked at the moment," she said. "It could happen to anyone who decides to drink and drive."