Pretty much all the NQR writers are graduates of Hamilton College, a small liberal arts school in The-Middle-of-Nowhere, New York. Any of us would readily say that Hamilton is a great school. It’s a NESCAC school, one of the best liberal arts colleges in the country, and we all love it. It makes me sad then, that the two times our school was mentioned in the mainstream media in the last year was when Jeremy Lin went there to watch his brother play in a DIII basketball game, and yesterday, when the daughter of very famous celebrity was arrested following a heroin overdose.
I’m not going to name names and say who the celebrity was because I don’t need to. If you’re that curious and you don’t already know, just Google it and you’ll find out in seconds.
When I found out that Hamilton was in the news for this reason yesterday, my first thought was something along the lines of, “ugh. Of course.” After the initial detached incredulous phase wore off, I gave it a lot more thought. It’s an unfortunate and complicated issue, especially for someone who went to Hamilton.
On the one hand, I feel really bad for this girl. It isn’t her fault that her dad is a celebrity, and that she is therefore in the limelight. Hamilton has around 1,800 students. I’m 100% positive that if any one of the other 1,799 students had ODd on heroin, TMZ and The New York Post wouldn’t be reporting it. People are making jokes about her because her celebrity is obscuring the fact that this is a girl who a) almost died due to a serious drug overdose and b) whose family is having a very difficult and personal crisis broadcast around the world.
There’s also the issue, brought up by this Huffington Post article, that according to New York state law, neither she nor the other student arrested should have been arrested at all. Called Good Samaritan 911, the law gives amnesty to prevent overdosing deaths. The logic is that fear of arrest might deter people from calling for help. (Update: The charges have been dropped. So that’s good.) Celebrity or not, we’re talking about people’s lives here.
The issue isn’t about breaking the law, (at least it shouldn’t be at this stage) it’s not about out-of-control celebrity kids, and it really shouldn’t be a contest to see who can make the funniest joke on Twitter. This is serious, and it’s personal.
On the other hand – really? Heroin?
Despite all the sympathy I’ve displayed so far, when it comes down to it, I’m pissed. This girl is getting all this attention not because of some random tragedy or circumstance, but because she overdosed on freaking heroin.
Hamilton has been battling substance abuse issues for a while, and it’s not unique in this respect. Drinking and drugs are problems at most colleges. I’m not a teetotaler, but there needs to be a way to make sure that kids are waking up with a hangover at worst, instead of never waking up at all. There are serious issues to deal with regarding binge drinking and drug use. Hamilton is working very hard towards making the school a safe place, while the students try to keep it fun. It’s a difficult balance to achieve, but its one worth striving for, and I think the administration and students are for the most part trying to work together.
But heroin is rarely an issue. There is a difference between accidently having too many cups of jungle juice at a party and consciously shooting up heroin on a Tuesday night. I can’t find an abundance of sympathy for the rock star’s daughter getting into trouble because she was doing heroin. She’s hurting herself, she’s hurting her family, and she’s hurting our school. If I was asked to describe “shooting heroin” in one word, I would probably say “stupid,” or I’d cheat and call it a “dumb-f***ing-idea.” Despite the celebrity, despite the overblown media coverage, that’s still what I’m going to call this whole situation at its core. I’m upset that Hamilton is getting mentioned because of one stupid idea on a Tuesday night.
I hope that this girl fully recovers and gets her life back on track. I hope that her family is fine, and I hope that she’s able to work something out with Hamilton College. I also hope that she (and everyone at Hamilton, or any college for that matter,) stays away from heroin. It really, really shouldn’t be that hard to do.
Originally published Thursday, November 15, 2012