announced Tuesday that OSU had agreed to pay his family $450,000 to settle their wrongful-death suit.
I won’t repeat any of the comments here, but my initial reaction? Just, wow.
Not that this information would knock such flawless commenters from the saddles of their high horses, but here’s one fact I’ll repeat about Singletary: He was a leader with the Buckeye Civic Engagement Connection, a project of the Office of Student Life. In that role, he volunteered at Eastgate Elementary School in Columbus, helping students with their schoolwork and with behavioral issues.
So how about swallowing a little of that bile?
Singletary was a young man who, while under the influence of alcohol, made a bad — sure, we can call it stupid — decision to leap into an icy stew of waterfowl poop and human urine.
That same scenario applied to probably 80 percent of the throng surrounding him that night. And unlike a good portion of the hundreds taking the plunge, Singletary was of legal
He also, friends told investigators later, didn’t even really want to do it. We’re too old at 22 to blame peer pressure for our dumb choices but sometimes not old enough to recognize the hold it still has on us.
You’ve all likely heard it:
That Singletary should be pilloried for doing what generations of college students have done, namely drink too much alcohol to act responsibly, feels awfully two-faced. I did plenty of stupid things after drinking too much in college. So did every single person I can think of in my social circle, and we weren’t even considered partyers. The self-destructive phenomenon of binge drinking has become as much a part of collegiate life as pulling an all-nighter.
Most of us squeaked through unscathed. Every school year, some don’t.
Some critics blasted OSU for agreeing to the settlement. Those critics hit the better target for the wrong reason.
OSU agreed to the settlement without accepting liability, but rest assured that university lawyers knew that Singletary’s family had a case.
As the Mirror Lake tradition grew, OSU clearly became uncomfortable with it but allowed it to persist. While maintaining all along that the student-led event was frowned upon by the university, administrators tried all sorts of ways to oversee it. When Singletary died, the practice was to install temporary fencing and hand out wristbands to control access to the lake.
So, his family’s attorney might have argued, the university turned the Mirror Lake plunge into a ride at a carnival midway. What the university considered legitimate attempts to keep students safe could be seen instead as providing students with a false sense of security.
Anyone angered by this settlement should focus not on a young man’s tragic death or the considerable sum of state money that will not make up for it. Ask instead why it took Ohio State administrators 25 years to hit upon the most obvious solution, plainly on display for the past two years during what they say is the unrelated overhaul of temporarily empty Mirror Lake.
All they had to do was pull the plug.