EDITORIAL: We didn't 'Take Care' of Michael Hartnett


Isabella County Prosecutor Risa Scully announced on Monday that no charges will be filed in the case of Michael Hartnett, 18-year-old Dearborn Heights man who drowned in the Fabiano Botanical Garden pond during Homecoming Weekend.

The decision hopefully brings closure to his family, friends and the Central Michigan University community. However, Hartnett's death should serve as a reminder to students and community members of the importance of looking out for one another.

It was determined by a medical examiner that Hartnett drowned in the pond while he was intoxicated. He had been visiting CMU to see some friends on Homecoming Weekend. He was found in the pond on Oct. 5.

Our community failed to take care of Hartnett while he was intoxicated, and he is not alone. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that  1,825 college students aged 18 to 24 die each year due to "alcohol-related unintentional injuries."

The CMU Take Care initiative exists to encourage students to keep a watchful eye out for one another and to intervene when necessary to create a more positive outcome from a potentially dangerous situation.

We are back together as a community after a three-week break at home. This is bound to create some celebration, and adhering to the "Take Care" initiative by no means is an abandonment of fun. 

Taking care of each other is as simple as organizing a ride home for someone, calling to make sure a friend is OK or staying near to someone who shows signs of distress or inebriation.

A "Take Care" mentality is even more essential now that icy roads, cold winds and below-freezing temperatures rule the campus and Mount Pleasant area. 

Preventing accidents during situations in which people are intoxicated is difficult enough without adding harsh elements on top of it. 

Accidents are sometimes inevitable. Many tragedies, from drownings or abductions to physical injuries or car crashes, can be prevented just by the simple act of being present and being watchful.

Each time a tragedy, accident or crime occurs near this campus, we are reminded to "Take Care." 

This is not enough. 

Being invested in our friends' safety and well being should be a priority for all students, all the time. 

So be present. Be watchful and be accountable. Commit to making campus a safe place for all by completing the Take Care Pledge, found on the initiative's website through the CMU portal.

Invest in each other, and, as the Take Care Pledge advocates, refuse to be a bystander.