Editorial: A lesson to learn: Think, then act

Everyone makes mistakes. But sometimes people behave without thinking about the consequences, and how their actions will affect other people.
In last week’s article, “Arrest leaves Rider down one wrestler,” The Rider News reported that four Rider University students broke into a car over winter break, stealing objects valued at $120. The four of them are no longer enrolled at Rider, but the damage is done. One of the four, Tyler Smith, was a star on the wrestling team and his actions are bringing negative attention to himself, to the team and to the university.
The university doesn’t need or want the negative press brought on by reckless behavior. In the case of the break-in, it was four students acting out. But what about when it is an entire organization that can be blamed for an incident? In the spring of 2007, freshman Gary DeVercelly Jr. tragically passed away after allegedly consuming close to a whole bottle of vodka. He was pledging the now-defunct fraternity, Phi Kappa Tau, and was reportedly left alone at a party. No other members of the fraternity thought to check to make sure he was OK, and now, whenever someone mentions Rider, there is always that chance of someone asking, “Isn’t that where that kid died?”
Most recently, two members of Rider’s theater fraternity, Alpha Psi Omega, allegedly stole more than $900 from the group’s money box. The two members have since left the university and been dropped from Rider’s newest play, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, but the theft has clearly had an effect on those in the group.
While these may be extreme examples, they prove the point that students need to understand the consequences of what they’re doing, and that those consequences affect others. It’s important to remember, though, that the behavior of some individuals is not representative of the whole. Just because a few members of the group did something wrong doesn’t mean that same behavior is reflective of other group members.
Students shouldn’t only be worried about how their poor judgment makes the university look. They should be thinking about how it will affect their futures as well. The four students associated with the break-in will be going to court on March 2 after being charged with burglary and theft. Michael Torney, the former president of Phi Kappa Tau, negotiated a plea bargain when he went to court for being involved with DeVercelly’s death and was punished with three years of probation, 100 hours of community service and alcohol counseling. With those incidents on their records, it will make it more challenging when searching for future jobs because reports of the situations will not go away.
When students behave carelessly, they need to think through the consequences and realize that they are not invincible. They will get caught and be punished, especially when they break a law. We don’t want others’ bad behavior passed off on us. Rider has had enough bad publicity over the past few years; it doesn’t need anymore.

This weekly editorial expresses the majority opinion of The Rider News. This week’s editorial was written by the Opinion Editor, Angelique Lee.

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