It’s a situation many of us have been in.
You get a call from a friend on a Friday night that has had a few too many and needs a ride home. Recognizing your friend has made the right decision by calling you instead getting behind the wheel anyway, you make the easy decision and pick them up, knowing the few minutes of inconvenience is a small price to pay for the safety of your friend and everyone else on the road.
Doubtlessly, that was what 17-year-old Erin Cox was thinking when she got such a message from her friend who was intoxicated at a party. However, things for Cox turned out much differently than one would expect.
Cox, an honour student and captain of North Andover High School volleyball team in North Andover, Massachusetts, was stripped of her title of captain and suspended for five games after driving her drunk friend home from a party.
After receiving a text from her friend who needed a ride, Cox arrived at the party around the same time police were breaking it up. Police arrested several of the partygoers and charged them with underage drinking, but confirmed that Cox was not drunk, nor drinking and was only there to pick up her friend. For some reason, the testimony from a police officer who was actually at the party was not good enough for the school and Cox was punished for doing the right thing and keeping a drunk driver off the roads. There are so many things wrong with this I barely know where to start. First off, Cox never violated the school’s zero-tolerance policy.
That policy is against drug and alcohol use.
Cox was not drinking, nor was she using drugs. So, how exactly did she violate a policy against using drugs or alcohol without at all using either of those substances?
Secondly, Cox is being punished for an incident that took place outside of school hours, off school grounds and as far as I’m concerned nowhere near the school’s jurisdiction. By what right exactly is the school punishing a student for something that has nothing to do with schooling itself ?
Finally, the third issue with Cox’s suspension is so messed up I can scarcely believe it. The only reason Cox went to that party at all was to stop her drunk friend from driving home, something that is commended as the act of a Good Samaritan. Except of course when schools decide to play politics and punish students for arbitrary reasons. Playing politics and using the ‘it’s our policy’ defense doesn’t even make sense here because Cox didn’t break that policy and didn’t do anything wrong.
I could maybe begin to understand North Andover High School’s actions if the reputation of school was besmirched in any way by this incident, but it wasn’t. It’s not like photos of Cox at the party in her volleyball uniform or other such school attire were posted all over the Internet, because we would have seen them if that was the case.
If anything, the school’s reputation has improved with this incident exposing that the school produces such stand-up students. Well, that is, it would have improved until that school decided to punish such students.
Think of the irony. Schools are institutions created to educate. We hope from this education that they grow into responsible adults.
But children learn more from schools than just what is taught by the formal lessons in the classrooms. They also learn things by how the school conducts its business and treats its students.
What Cox did would be seen by many (in fact, most of the population I would hope) to be a responsible action, but she was punished for it. Just what do you think students are learning from that?