October 26, 2010

Kim's Worst Nightmare?

Yesterday, President Kim spoke at the general meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences to address sexual assault and alcohol abuse. During that speech, Kim described the scenario that haunts his darkest dreams:

“My nightmare is that someone dies with a .396 blood alcohol level … because people were scared that calling for help would get the student or themselves in trouble — and then I have to call the parents the next morning, and the mother is a public health physician, and the father is a lawyer.”

Perhaps this author's naiveté knows no bounds, but shouldn't President Kim's nightmare scenario be that a student dies of alcohol poisoning? Why the caveat about the student's parents?

This post is not intended to question Kim's fundamental concern for student safety. But for a President who is oft lauded for his communication skills, this seems a faux pas extraordinaire. To effectively communicate with students on the dangers of alcohol abuse, and to work with students on crafting an effective alcohol policy, Kim needs credibility. Students should trust that Kim cares for their well-being. Statements like the one above give the opposite impression: students are left feeling that Kim is more concerned with covering his own liabilities than ensuring students' safety.

Kim's communications failure becomes even more egregious when juxtaposed with his record of accomplishment in this arena. As Joe Asch over at Dartblog points out today, Kim's rhetoric of action doesn't square with his record of inaction. Kim needs walk instead of just talk.

Of course, if Kim just wants to keep talking about a new alcohol policy instead of writing one, he should at least choose his words more carefully. Kim's speech to the Faculty of Arts & Sciences is a big step in the wrong direction.

President Kim is losing political capital with students who are increasingly frustrated with his lack of action. As an anonymous poster on the aforementioned story in The D proposes, leaving students to wonder if Kim hopes that the first student to die from alcohol poisoning has uneducated parents does little to build necessary trust.


  1. Anonymous8:02 PM

    The comment about the parents was re: a student who had died at Northwestern. The "hypothetical" scenario he presented was that exact scenario; the Northwestern student's parents were a public health physician and a lawyer.

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