Short takes on the week’s lessons

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The 11 students arrested at Bates College late Tuesday night are part of a proud college community rich with smart, compassionate and caring individuals. In a statement to the Bates College community Wednesday, President Elaine Hansen said “This incident is highly unusual for Bates, where the College’s values are clearly grounded in personal responsibility and respect for others.”

Decades of Bates students have proven Hansen’s statement true, studying hard and volunteering thousands of hours of community service to surrounding Lewiston.

How, then, did it all go so wrong?

Someone at the school called for an ambulance to help a young woman who was reported to have been injured after falling out of bed. The ambulance responded and the driver had difficulty getting through the throng of students partying in the street, and had more difficulty leaving because students refused to move.

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Students have strongly disagreed that they didn’t move, but the college president reports that to be a known fact, as has the ambulance driver.

By their refusal to move, no matter if it was seconds or minutes, these students interfered with emergency workers’ urgent need to get their patient to the hospital. That’s not being responsible or respectful to one of their own classmates, and is a clear contradiction of Bates’ values.

Jeers to whoever hindered medical response.

And Jeers to every person who purchased and then delivered alcohol to anyone under 21 under the “It’s Only a College Party” guise of Throwback Night — a relatively recent tradition of seniors bringing parting gifts of booze to freshmen at the end of the school year.

Police didn’t charge anyone with supplying alcohol to minors. Perhaps they should have, especially since alcohol seems to have fueled ugly behavior.

The students who were arrested are an esteemed bunch, many of whom are set to graduate on Sunday. They include art and chemistry majors, varsity baseball and tennis players, and one of the top squash players in the country. These students are among an elite group accepted to study at Bates, and who satisfied the rigorous academic demands of the campus. They will, undoubtedly, go on to succeed as the investment managers and economists they aspire to be.

One lesson they apparently haven’t yet learned in their young lives, though, is that when law enforcement officers are called to an unsanctioned party where minors have been drinking and then instruct revelers to disperse — just do it.

Cheers to Shauna Riodan, a junior at Lisbon High School, who participated in an after-school demonstration Monday to bring public attention to proposed cuts to the school budget.

Some of her classmates demonstrated during the school day and were suspended for skipping school, but Riodan attended classes and joined the demonstrations after school. She was, most thoughtfully, exercising her First Amendment right to peaceably assemble to protest government actions.

In order to do that, though, she skipped a scheduled softball game, which made her ineligible to participate in a playoff game Wednesday. It’s part of the school’s rules of athletic participation that if you miss a game without the coach’s permission, you must sit the bench the next game.

Seems fair, especially when students know about the rule in advance. Riodan knew, decided to skip because she felt so strongly about supporting her teachers and her school, and she unhappily paid the consequence Wednesday.

She appealed the coach’s decision to the principal and athletic director, but they each upheld the school policy, which also seems fair.

Riodan said she doesn’t regret taking part in the demonstration, even though she was sad to miss the game, and said she would do it again because she felt so strongly about voicing her objection to the school cuts.

Monday was no ordinary school day for Riodan. She got solid and lasting lessons in participatory government, decision-making and consequences.

editorialboard@sunjournal.com

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