By ELIZABETH GELBAUGH
Windows are boarded up, families have fled their homes and the entire nation is glued to television sets, smart phones and computers to stay updated on the latest news of Hurricane Matthew.
Many news stories have warned citizens, especially South Floridians, of the danger of their apathetic attitude. A category 4 hurricane seems obviously threatening to most, but South Florida is frequently plagued by tropical storms, complete with high winds and immense flooding.
President Obama and Florida Gov. Rick Scott have encouraged Americans living in coastal Florida, Georgia and South Carolina to leave their homes, warning that apathy and unwillingness to leave could cost citizens their lives.
However, there is little being said about college students during this time.
Universities along the southeast coast, including University of Miami, the College of Charleston, Coastal Carolina University and University of South Carolina, have closed for the remainder of the week. Schools have encouraged students to evacuate if possible and are taking various precautions to ensure the safety of those who remain on campus.
Many college students are far away from friends and family dealing with a situation that is totally foreign to them. Plenty of students, particularly Midwesterners, have never lived through a hurricane and are utterly unprepared and overwhelmed.
Although the panic and stress this may cause is worrisome, the lack of preparedness and underestimation of the severity of Hurricane Matthew is far more concerning. Classes are canceled, assignments are postponed and students have more free time than ever.
What does that mean? It’s party time.
Media have neglected to cover the added danger that excessive alcohol consumption and drug use will undoubtedly cause during this disaster. Everyone must keep their wits about them during a crisis, and neglecting to do so by binge-drinking and going out in inclement weather may be fatal.
By neglecting to mention this issue and its potentially fatal side effects in the news, media are allowing this attitude to endure, even proliferate. Many young adults are unaware of the severity of a hurricane, so peer pressure and fear of missing out (FOMO, as the kids are calling it these days) are driving students to engage in risky behavior that is unwise even under the safest environmental conditions.
News media should pay more attention to college and university students to remind them of the possible consequences of hurricane parties and discourage them from taking part in unnecessary and life-threatening activities.