Death at The Bridges: reflective of a dangerous party culture

Tiana Meador

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8On Nov. 1 a 19-year-old University of St. Thomas freshman died after accumulated injuries due to a fall off of the 10th story sky lounge at The Bridges apartment, around 1:00 a.m.

As stated by Fox 9, “The victim has been identified as Joia Simpson, a freshman at the University of St. Thomas studying business. She is a native of Bayside, California.” At the time of her death, The Bridges stated they were working closely with residents and the family, however, they referred to Simpson as a guest, and continue to be under investigation.

“St. Thomas reports Simpson was interested in studying business.The release said Counseling and Psychological Services and the Center for Campus Ministry are available for students, faculty and staff who need grief support,” reported Fox 9.

What happened to Simpson was terrible, as it was stated she was attending a Halloween party at the time of the accident, and her friends were outside with her when help arrived around 1:00 a.m. She died at the hospital due to blunt force injuries.

In September, a similar event occurred, regarding the death of another University of Minnesota student, also partying and/or alcohol related.

On Sept. 12 sophomore Dylan Fulton, a 20-year-old student from Miller, S.D., was discovered dead by Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity members. The following police, fraternity and university investigations, the medical examiner released the cause of death to be alcohol-related. 

MPR News reported, “University President Eric Kaler issued a statement the day after Fulton’s death that urged all Greek chapters to “immediately” implement the North-American Interfraternity Conference ban on alcohol over 15 percent by volume. Members of the university’s Interfraternity Council, which includes Alpha Gamma Rho, implemented the ban following Kaler’s request.”

On Feb. 25, a similar event occurred regarding 20-year-old Mitchell Hoenig who was hospitalized on Feb. 23 after complications regarding alcohol poisoning and cocaine usage.

MN Daily had reported, “The sorority’s bylaws explicitly prohibit underage consumption of alcohol at sorority events.”

After all these events, three largely alcohol-related deaths, the regulation, although stated to be strict, continuously fails in one situation or the other. Understanding that the first two deaths were directly associated with Greek Life is understandable, and therefore covered under regulation, but those that fall out of the loop, external parties held at third-party apartments, outside of  the university’s regulation, such as in Simpson’s case, are not regulated.

It is understood that as adults, college students need to be in control of their drinking and alcohol related habits, however the three deaths, deaths of minors, is reflective of a University, a community, that is failing to protect their students.

Whether it is University of Minnesota, University of St. Thomas, or a Greek Life incident, all three contain a minor in consumption.

 According to the 2018 NSDUH, “58.0 percent of full-time college students ages 18–22 drank alcohol in the past month compared with 48.2 percent of other persons of the same age.”

Maybe partying culture is reflective of the way students decompress after a heavy weeks stress and work, however, it seems the protections and regulations in place are proving to be PR bandaids rather than preventative action- especially because that whole ban on alcohol over 15 percent by volume, is also failing.

You think students are going to listen to that? No. They are going to mix their drinks in a water bottle, 50-70 percent vodka or some other hard liquor, with a sugary soda or juice, and bring it in. They get stopped? They say it is beer or wine. That is the lingo, that is how it goes.

Maybe the university should reconsider the strains they place on their students before another one goes out, drinks their stress away, and dies.