An insult to honor

After reading your recent article on the fourth-year fifth [December 1 cover story: "4th and binge"], I was appalled.

While the article indicated that nearly 90 percent of fourth-years make responsible drinking choices, the article did not leave the impression that most UVA students are being smart about alcohol.

Focusing on deviant behavior makes such behavior look normal and accepted by the community when it is not. If the author had asked other students what they thought of "John's" behavior, I can assure you many of them would have found it reprehensible and a disgrace to the honor of the University of Virginia.

By highlighting a "successful" attempt at completing the fourth-year fifth (and I define successful here only in terms of not needing emergency medical care), the article may lead other students to believe that they too can safely complete this dangerous practice.

I will not deny that the article contained truthful statistics, but in the end, the story was about a young man endangering his life for the sake of "tradition."

Stories are always more powerful than statistics, and the anecdotal evidence in the article tilts toward acceptance of the fifth. I fervently hope that your highlighting this risky and potentially fatal behavior will not lead more students to engage in such a senseless act.

Laura Clark
Chair, UVA Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Team