One bad apple doesn’t spoil the whole bunch.
In a recent event involving Kalamazoo College’s Day of Gracious Living, some students chose to not follow the South Haven Beach Rules and brought alcohol. There is a zero tolerance rule this year.
What ensued was very typical of a college “scene” with many, but not all, students involved in fighting and disorderly conduct. Groups of students were brought to the beach in busloads. Some took their own vehicles. It was noted on the news at 6:00 from the local Kalamazoo station. They parked at the family beach on the south side, just like last year and the year before.
Who is responsible when things go awry?
Angry residents of the small Lake Michigan town took to Facebook to air their feelings about what had occurred on their beach. Smarting from a 4th of July fireworks near riot in 2016, the City of South Haven and its Public Safety Officers have cracked down on the rules of no alcohol on their beaches. They sent a clear message to all that day.
As a former teacher and shared resident of South Haven and Kalamazoo, I find the comments escalating as they seem to do on social media. There were many students on the beach. I walked my dog down on the sidewalk and many super nice kids stopped to pet him and talk.
These students were living graciously. They were outgoing and enjoying the sunny beach day of freedom. How sad that a few bad apples turned this event to one that might besmirch the reputation of the college and all of its students.
Bad choices should have consequences. Those that trashed, took advantage of the beautiful beach setting to get wasted, or did not follow the beach rules should be held accountable. The College, as a whole, cannot be considered the “bad guy” here. It certainly did not provide the alcohol and left it up to the students to be on exemplary behavior.
Human brains do not reach complete development until the age of 24. Many of these students are in the throes of adolescent risk taking. This means they really don’t care about the consequence but want the immediate thrill of the risk. It doesn’t matter whether they are privileged, rich or poor. It happens in all walks of life, and sadly, to all ages. More times than not, the perpetrators are not caught.
As a leader, however, I can’t help but wonder when the thrill wore off (or the buzz in this case) what kind of feeling was left?
“Kids will be kids” was a comment I saw on social media.
While this is so very true, it just is not that simple. KID adults are representing the Kalamazoo College community when they are on a college sponsored excursion. KID adults know there will be consequence if there is a rule broken.
But, should the consequences be placed on the student body as a whole?
Kalamazoo College, I just want you to know that there were “kid adults” in that group that were socially evolved and wonderful to talk with. I couldn’t help but smile as I passed by at this carefree and fun day you have given them. South Haven is really sending a message this year that all must heed. As with all field trips, please leave the beach better than when you arrived.
Follow the Rules. A few bad apples should not spoil the whole bunch.