The Closing of The Respite Center

Jackie Imondi

Contributing Writer/Copy Editor

Hello fellow students, and welcome back for your first semester, your last semester, or somewhere in between.

I turned 21 last Saturday (and yes, I will continue to accept belated birthday wishes whenever you see me on campus, in case you were wondering).

Turning 21 is a right of passage that we wait years to experience.

On the day of one’s 21st birthday, the expectation is that one gets heavily intoxicated via the consumption of alcoholic beverages typically purchased for the lucky 21 year old by his/her friends.

A couple weeks prior to the start of school, all Springfield students received an email from Dr. Terry Vecchio about the closing of the campus’ Respite Center.

There were a lot of mixed reviews; some were ecstatic that they no longer had to worry about official letters being sent home to their parents after a night when they went a bit too “hard” and needed to spend the remainder of the evening and part of the following morning in a drunk tank.

My view, and the view shared by most of my closest friends, is that the closing of Respite is going to cause a lot more problems with students on this campus.

I may be making false assumptions, but I did think that administrators and the higher-ups of this institution believed that students at this school used Respite as a reason to drink more and party harder on the weekends.

Let me explain this further: no one ever wanted to get sent to Respite. Sure, Respite was a great alternative to the hospital, but being sent to Respite meant that you had to spend a night in a bed that wasn’t your own and being cared for by people you probably didn’t know as well as your roommates.

As outlined in the email from the Dean of Students, a Respite-like center is illegal to exist on a college campus in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I am not saying we should be breaking the law, but I will defend the system we did have in place. Respite saved many a students from being sent to the hospital on weekend evenings when the liquor they consumed was more than they could handle.

By saving them the hospital transport, they also saved the parents the stress of receiving a phone call in the early morning hours that their child was being sent to the hospital. I’m sure getting a letter outlining the child’s stay at Respite was a lot more comforting to the parents that received it rather than the ones who were awakened by a phone call.

My question now is, will students keep their friends in dangerous situations to avoid the chance of being transported to the hospital? No one wanted to even get sent to Respite, so students would keep their friends holed up in their res halls to keep them out of trouble, but is this really the best option?

If there is no longer going to be a “drunk tank” on campus to keep students from being immediately sent to the hospital, I believe there is going to need to be some incentive for students to turn themselves into Public Safety or an RA when their level of intoxication reaches an incontrollable level.

I am sure the school plans to continuously address the issue of excess drinking on this campus without the presence of a center to keep all students housed in one specific area. Perhaps the EMS students will make rounds on weekend evenings.

Maybe they’ll be invited into the townhouse backyards to patrol for any foul play. Whatever the administration decides, I can be assured that their decision will be based on what they honestly believe will be the best option for the students of this campus.

Again, welcome back everyone! Here’s to a great semester!

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