Emotion from Gary DeVercelly’s death has swept over the Lawrenceville campus like a tidal wave. It’s hard for any young person to face the loss of someone his or her own age, as it shocks them into the sudden realization that tomorrow is never guaranteed. Gary’s death is particularly hard to accept because of the circumstances surrounding it. Although in incidents like these it seems as though the world is ending, we realize sadly that life goes on.
When Gary’s mother spoke on the afternoon of his memorial service, she pleaded with students to make this tragedy lead to something good, and that’s exactly what we must do.
If you listen closely, it is obvious that the main message that people across campus are getting from the incident is that the dangers of alcohol, although sometimes overlooked, are immense. However, people have always known this, yet continued to drink throughout their college experience. Unfortunately, that will probably never change.
The most important lesson that one can take away from this tragic event is not a reinforcement of the dangers of alcohol, but one of the age-old lessons that parents teach their children: You don’t need to prove yourself to others to be accepted.
According to an article published in The Times of Trenton, close friends of Gary’s knew that this kind of drinking was unlike him.
While his friends’ descriptions illustrate that this form of heavy drinking was uncharacteristic of Gary, his reason for doing it was not one that was unusual for him at all.
According to the article, one of his friends from home said that if he had any flaws at all, it was his desire to impress people. While this quality was perhaps one of the things that made Gary so likeable to so many, there might have been a point where it became a danger to him as well.
Gary was going through the new member process for Rider’s chapter of the Phi Kappa Tau (PKT) fraternity. While the brothers of PKT without a doubt were just looking to have fun and had no intention of anything bad happening to the 18-year-old, it may have been Gary’s desire to impress them that pushed him to consume the amount of alcohol that led to his death.
Unfortunately, students feeling as though they need to prove themselves to fit in are not uncommon on college campuses. Many organizations put pressure on students to conform or to participate in things that they wouldn’t normally be a part of. It is an all-too-common occurrence for students to find themselves in serious trouble because they did something they didn’t want to do in the first place.
Many students across the country falsely think that they have to prove their worth to others to be accepted. The truth is, there is only one person to whom you should ever prove your worth: Yourself. Once you have proven to yourself that you are the person you want to be, others will appreciate you for being you. It is then that you have truly succeeded in life.
While the consequences of peer pressure usually are no worse than a fight with someone close to you or a bad hangover the next day, Gary’s death proves that, although it’s rare, consequences can sometimes go far beyond what is expected. The strength that Gary’s memory can give you may save your own life one day. Make a change for the better because you never know what might happen if you don’t.
— Nicole Southern