Young Voices

Thursday, October 30, 2008

When a friendly game of beer pong turns into a tragedy, there needs to be consequences

Are Drinking Games Just Asking for Trouble?

A typical weekend for students at Buena Vista University (BVU) may include going to the movies or going to Sioux City for the day. There is usually a party on Friday or Saturday night which usually involves drinking games; anything from tippy cup to beer pong.

Then it's back to the dorms to go to bed to be ready for the next day, while getting some homework in at the same time. This is probably the typical weekend for most college students; however, depending on their location, they probably are not going to Sioux City for the day.

This was probably how University of Montana student, Jerry Stewart's weekend was going, up until the game of beer pong.

Collan Sheppard, a fellow University of Montana student, was playing a friendly game of beer pong at a fellow female student's house.

Now, everyone knows there are "house rules" when playing this particular game. Sheppard was not happy with one of the "house rules" put in place by the female student so he started to get aggressive with her. Stewart tried to step in and help her and help calm Sheppard down.

No one really calmed down though and a fight broke out between Sheppard and Stewart.

According to witnesses, Sheppard then brought a knife into the mix. Before others could intervene, Sheppard stabbed Steward in the arm and the abdomen.

Sheppard ran from the scene, but had later given himself to the Missoula Police. He could face up to 20 years in prison if he is convicted.

I know most of us have not heard of something quite like this happening based on a game of beer pong, but it makes you wonder, could an out-of-hand game of beer pong lead to something like this happening on campus? Alcohol certainly could intensify the game of beer pong and make players a bit more aggressive. But what is the likelihood this could happen?

BVU no longer allows students to live in the cottages, which are the only living spaces that offer full kitchens exclusively to those staying in those buildings; kitchens usually have silverware in them.

There are kitchens in all of the dorms except for the suites, but those are very public areas where alcohol is not allowed.

Based on the fact there is limited access to knives of any sort, in my opinion, the possibility of someone being stabbed over a game of beer pong is rather small - there certainly could be a fight over a "house rule" that a participant may not like, but a stabbing is rather unlikely.

The fact that this even happened is rather ridiculous. No one should drink enough alcohol to get to the point where they are willing to stab someone because they get angry at a rule of a game.

On top of that, the fact that no one was able to get the knife away from him before he hurt someone is rather crazy too.

I understand no one else wanting to get hurt, but Steward could have died from this attack.

I also love the fact that Sheppard ran away just to turn himself into the police later. According to his lawyer, he wants to say it was self-defense.

However, with all the eye witness accounts, I would like to think this incident will not work out in his favor.

He stabbed a guy because he was drunk and upset at a game, now he has to suffer the consequences.

* Katie Rowe is the arts and entertainment editor for the Buena Vista University newspaper, "The Tack."