By Julian De Ocampo ’13 & Alex Stanley ’12
Three-fourths of the seniors that walk the hallways of Brophy have consumed alcohol at one point in time—that is if Brophy applies to the national averages given by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
“Substance abuse is a cultural issue in the United States,” said Dean Mr. Pat Higgins.
Brophy is no exception.
“I don’t see an out-of-control-ness or a spiraling effect, but I do recognize the impact of the issue,” he added.
Timmy Mourikes ’12 is one upperclassman who has seen the issue firsthand.
“I’m not going to say it doesn’t happen,” he said. “Most of the time it is responsible, but I have seen kids do very inappropriate things.”
Fellow senior Sam Pietrobono ’12 also said substance abuse goes on at Brophy.
“Every school has kids that drink and kids that go to parties and stuff like that,” he said.
He also said that passing the application process to get into Brophy does not make one less prone to drinking or drugs.
Although, the amount of exposure to drinking and drugs does differ from person to person.
Senior Carlos Mandeville ’12 chooses not to partake in any substance abuse.
“It’s more of a hindrance than anything in my development as a human being,” he said. “Especially in the academic realm—it keeps me from being the best possible Carlos.”
Underclassmen may feel less of a pressure to participate in alcohol consumption.
“As of right now, I have not been pressured into drinking or anything,” said David Levy ’15.
This issue can get very serious, to the point of dealing with life and death.
“Each year, approximately 5,000 young people under the age of 21 die as a result of underage drinking; this includes about 1,900 deaths from motor vehicle crashes, 1,600 as a result of homicides, 300 from suicide, as well as hundreds from other injuries such as falls, burns, and drownings,” according to the NIAAA.
Religion teacher Mr. Jim Grindey said there are different levels of alcohol consumption in the quest for a moral life.
“There’s a huge difference between drinking a glass of wine and having a beer keg filled with a gallon of wine and guzzling it,” he said.
“In Christian ethics it’s about what kind of person God is calling you to be, and what kind of behaviors are you engaging in that are fulfilling that goal or purpose in life, or not,” he said. “And if you are not, what do you need to do to change?”
Prevention and Ways Out
Counselor Mrs. Karen Parise is the person to go to if a student wants change. She runs the Student Assistance Program, a program for students on drugs or alcohol, or with emotional or personal struggles.
Students can refer themselves to the program, or can be referred by teachers, other students, friends or parents.
“If a student is willing to be honest about what is going on with them, for example if they’ve been smoking a lot, then they have the opportunity to have me assist them with trying to do something different, trying to make healthier choices,” she said.
She said she mainly sees students who smoke marijuana.
She did say though that she only sees a handful of cases, and doesn’t know the full scope of the issue.
“I hear the rumors about all the partying at Brophy, the drinking and the drugging, and sometimes I wonder if that’s true, because a lot of students have a lot of money,” Mrs. Parise said. “But in reality I think it is a problem at every school. I don’t think we are unique in that.”
However, she did say that the close-knit community of Brophy makes it easier to know what students are doing, and easier to care for problems.
This program, run by the counseling department, works with students to individually evaluate the situation and take appropriate measures.
The program’s protocol varies with each student, but almost always involves a combination of support from the student’s friends, family, community, health care providers and Brophy itself.
Mr. Higgins characterized substance abuse as a “health issue” and said the primary goal of the SAP is to offer the support needed to break the habit and stop students from “paying for it later on.”
He also noted students can refer friends to the program to seek help with their issues.
Brophy takes a three-part approach to substance abuse prevention that includes education, detection/prevention and counseling, according to the school website.
Mr. Higgins said Brophy is planning on introducing workshops with the substance abuse assistance organization Not My Kid in order to educate students on the impacts substance abuse can have on their lives.
The workshops would be an opportunity for students of all grade levels to learn about the issue.
Mr. Higgins said that the workshops would be important because while older students have retreats such as Magis and Kairos, which help them to reflect on the issues, many freshmen have limited or cursory knowledge.
Other drug prevention measures at Brophy include the drug dog program, where trained dogs sweep campus for contraband about once a month, and breathalyzer tests at Brophy dances.
Mr. Higgins reported success through the breathalyzing initiative, stating that very few, if any, students over the past several years had failed a breathalyzer test.
Students found to be guilty of substance abuse are subject to punitive sanctions that vary with the offense, and can include expulsion.
But self-reported offenses can carry much less severe repercussions than those that the school finds out about directly or through other sources.
Students either self-reporting or caught using or possessing drugs or alcohol are subject to a comprehensive reprimanding that includes an evaluation of usage, 30 hours of community service, a two to four week suspension from all non-academic school activities, disciplinary probation and restrictions from participating in co-curricular activities.
Students found violating the drug and alcohol policy for a second time will be found guilty of “violation of probation” and must appear in front of the Disciplinary Review Board as the punishment is decided.
The only exception to this rule is for self-reported alcohol offenses, which generally give students three chances instead of two.
For students weary of the sanctions associated with self-reporting, Mr. Higgins nonetheless said, “I would encourage students who need help to come to the dean’s office,” pointing out that some students have come to the office, served their sanctions and continued on to be successful students because they sought help.
But aside from sanctions, the one of Brophy’s key goals has always been prevention.
According to Mr. Higgins, the key to prevention is “dialogue, good friendships, interests and hobbies.”
“Be involved in your life,” Mr. Higgins said. “Don’t escape it.”