Dear Generals

I wanted to write you ever since our car drove away Sunday morning. It was a perfect game day- the sun was bright, the air felt especially crisp and smelled a perfect mix of flowers and that incredible smell of grass that reminds us older folks of our youth spent on fields. While we drove away I was filled with regret that I was missing your game, and didn’t get the chance to speak to you all, to hug and hive five each and every one of you.  I missed a chance to tell you just how much what you’re achieving, working toward, sweating for, sacrificing for, and playing for means to others.

I know none of you know who I am, why should you? I graduated in 2002, and please don’t sit there too long thinking about what you were doing in 2002… I know… it was 15 years ago. But I too played lacrosse for the Generals. I was a defender and two-time captain. I shared that locker room, spent too much time in a much grosser weight room, ran that track, taped my bruised body in that training room, and wore the same blue and white.

I lived and breathed the sport growing up in Alexandria, VA, and probably much like you, I chose W&L as a way to play in college while also having some balance in my life that I feared a D1 school couldn’t provide. My freshman year I  spent a good bit of time in the training room even by fall ball. Ankles tapes, legs wrapped, ice baths. I will never forget during that first month, however, sitting on a training table and a guy plopped down.

“What sport do you play?” he asked.

“Um, lacrosse. Women’s lacrosse” I stammered.

“Oh, club sport, right?”

As if my glare could pierce his face, I looked him in the eyes and said “Nope” and limped off.

I knew in that moment this wasn’t my high school anymore where the women set the records and had the stature. The women had come so far at W&L to establish a great team by 1998, but I knew then we women had more work to do. I remember thinking that what happened in the past didn’t matter, it was up to us now to change how women’s lacrosse was perceived. We gave it everything we had- we won often enough those first two years, we practiced late, we pushed our bodies to their extremes. We limped around campus, trying to achieve the level of success only the men so far had known in the sport. To me, with 15 years of distance from my last game, I truly feel we moved the proverbial ball forward for the sport in Lexington. Following our four years, more recruits came, more teams found success, and there were more awards bestowed on W&L. Each set of classmates wanted to go further, achieve more, and make a bigger name for women’s lacrosse on campus. We have all felt equally proud to wear that uniform, and watching your current success, I’ve never been so proud of what every year of women’s lacrosse accomplished. Each and every woman that played helped this program get where it is today. Even if it was just enough success that it attracted your beloved Coach to consider moving there and take you to where you are right now.

 

I know it’s been hard for you girls. I remember what it takes to be a General. Practices after full days of classes, night games right before you have an 8am test or paper due. We spent an inordinate amount of time on a bus to Florida every year, never made it to a Fancy Dress ball, watched our friends board buses to Foxfield while we boarded our own bus to a game. Spring break was spent in town, winter break was spent at home attempting to tackle the workout program.

I know the countless things you have missed, the parties, dates, even quiet time after classes. I know what it takes to cram for exams on a bus that well… you know… smells like a bus. Spring in Lexington is also wildly wonderful. It’s also incredibly hard to stay focused on something that you feel not everyone understands. Most of my best friends didn’t play a sport and hadn’t even seen lacrosse before they met me.

Staying focused right now is an important test. Maybe one of the hardest yet in your young lives. I see that, I respect that, and don’t ever think that you’re alone in feeling that way.

All of this sacrifice, all of this time dedicated to your team, to this sport, to the Generals… I’m here to tell you it’s worth it. It’s always been worth it for me.  Of all of the things I did while at Washington and Lee, and since then in my adult life, playing lacrosse and giving it all I had is one of the most important things I’ve ever accomplished. And what I wouldn’t give to be able to do it all again…

So, my fellow Generals, enjoy every moment of this post season ride. Enjoy the practices, the time spent together on that field, in the locker room, and be proud of your dedication. Do not forget be grateful for this time you have together as a team. Know that I am with you every step of the way, watching you online and wearing my blue as often as I can. And don’t ever forget to listen to Coach… she’s world class… and also my friend.

Again, I am so proud of each and every one of you.

GO GENERALS!! PROVE IT!!!

With all my love,

Eloise

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A New Tradition… my W&L speech

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As I unwind from our long drive home from Virginia, I can’t help but recall and rehash the speech I gave on Thursday evening in Lee Chapel at my alma mater Washington and Lee University. As many of you know, I was invited by the Kelsey Committee to speak to the student body during their inaugural Generals Week on the topic of drinking and driving.

The two incredible students who reached out to me with the invitation mentioned that my first email to the student body helped heal them after the most recent tragedy in December. Helped them feel less alone after their friend, roommate, sorority sister and fellow General Kelsey Durkin lost her life. It was an honor and privilege to be asked, and I sought out to honor Kelsey’s memory as well as the many Generals who have been affected by drinking and driving before her. 

Writing this speech was beyond challenging. Alumni either didn’t want to remember what it felt like, or when they did… it was still too painful to share. And over the last month, I realized more and more just who I really needed to reach. The cross section of students who were the most unlikely group to actually attend the talk… and whose faces I didn’t see in the crowd Thursday night.  In spite of the gender imbalance in the audience, the turnout was good and the young women and few gentlemen I saw and met were of course impressive. This talk and this weekend at W&L was just the beginning though. The foundation has been set and the seeds planted. It will now be up to those students who sat across from me that night to spread the word. To continue to be Generals Strong and keep their “Promise for Kelsey” alive. 

You students that sat in Lee Chapel… it’s time to get to work…

The speech I gave that night is below. As a blog writer and a novice at that… this is a speech… so as a written piece it certainly loses something. If you are a student at W&L, I ask that as you read it… you imagine yourself seated in Lee Chapel. Picture the white walls, stark pews and the faces of your fellow Generals beside you. 

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Good evening students, faculty, coaches, friends. Thank you so much, Meade, for that introduction. As she mentioned, I am that 30-something alumna who wrote you a letter on my blog after the accident last fall. I was graciously invited to speak to you tonight by the Kelsey Committee, and want to thank them for their invitation as well as my fellow alumni who lent me their wisdom on this challenging topic.

I have to admit, after my initial gratitude from being asked to speak subsided, unease settled in its place. It was a fear that you would perceive me as just another older person going on and on about a topic… that has been discussed countless times.  That you would turn a deaf ear, assuming you’ve heard it all before.

I am not here to lecture you. I am not your mother. I’m not your faculty advisor or another older person giving you a hard time about drinking. I’m also not naive enough to think that one person, one speech and one weekend can change this culture forever. But I am here to reach those of you that are ready for change. Ready to wake up and be accountable. 

I’m not claiming to be an expert.  I don’t run Mother’s Against Drunk Driving. It was my friends, not I, who started Traveller.  There are probably far more qualified people to speak on the topic of drinking and driving.  So why am I here?  Because I ….. was you.  And I hope that I can be the first person discussing drunk driving that you can actually relate to.  

I am a General. I was a Kappa. I was a lacrosse player. I was exactly like you… many years ago. I came to W&L for the tradition, for the people, for the culture, for the possibilities. I came, I studied, I played, I partied, I drank, I watched drunk friends drive, and I watched other friends get in the car.  I rode in cars with drunk drivers. And I lost friends.  Three to be exact. What makes us different now is that I have perspective. The kind of perspective that comes from living for over a decade with the choices I made here. The choices I allowed my friends to make.

Drunk driving claimed the lives of two people while I was here in school. One more has permanent brain damage. Living through these experiences was no different than what you went through last year. Shock, grief, anger, guilt, memorial services, the quiet because no one knew what to say, feeling lost and unsure of what matters, and scared… because it could have been me.

The fall of my sophomore year was the first time drunk driving tragedy struck my somewhat insulated world. It was my dear friend from high school and then college. What a guy.

I had spoken to him the night before. He called from his fraternity house… hoping I’d gather some girls to come down and hang out. It was just before fall break, so I bailed and stayed in for the night. He decided he was fine… sober enough to drive because he waited a while… tried to sober up. When I was told the next morning… my first reaction was… “It can’t be Kelly… I just talked to him. Surely you have the wrong person.”  

The guilt that remains with those of us who live through these tragedies is carried for some time. Could I have said something to him? Could someone else at the house have stopped him? After a very long stay at the hospital, he went home with permanent brain damage. He is alive.  But forever changed.

One year later… Homecoming.  I woke up to an email sent by the administration. Two students were killed at 2am after a Tahoe flipped into an embankment. They were travelling home after an off-campus party. The couple had just started dating. He too thought he was “fine to drive”. She…….. trusted him.  Same windy roads. Same poor choices. 

I remember how we gathered together and cried. Stunned. Feeling empty. We questioned our own actions. Vowed things would be different.  Traveller was formed in response by two of my brave and incredible friends. A GIANT leap towards making things safer. The bubble in which W&L resides was forged again.  That feeling that nothing could touch us…. came back… months later.  And life… as it does… moved on.

I also felt invincible when I was a student. Something bad happened over there to them, but the same wouldn’t happen to me. My fellow alumni and I clearly remember the irrational game of musical seats in cars to get home at two in the morning. That moment when the prospect of sleeping at an off-campus house seems like the worst threat. When any car, any ride home… sounds life saving not… life threatening. 

My junior year, during exams, I went to an off-campus party. We never made plans for how we would get home. We just always did.  So… I stayed after most of my friends left and felt I HAD to get a ride with the last car going back to campus. The guy I liked was hopping in… so… I willingly leaped in the back of some guy’s pick up truck alongside 6 other people. 

I had no idea if the driver had been drinking. I never asked. Most likely he had… Traveller had stopped running. I vaguely remember he had been around the keg. When I heard the news of the accident in 2010, after the same party, and how two kids from my hometown were in the hospital… I remembered that ride 10 years earlier. Years prior the headline could have easily been Eloise Priest from Alexandria VA lost her life as she was thrown from a truck.  Same windy roads. Same poor choices.

After I wrote my first letter to you, I received a number of emails filled with thanks, with remorse, with regret. A girl who had driven drunk once while at school emailed to make her confession.  One girl mentioned how she had seen Kelsey at the party just before she chose to leave. She blamed herself for not stopping her.  Another guy who hosted the party was beside himself that not enough sober rides were available. That he let his buddy drive. 

I also received a few emails from alumni and campus leaders who have lost faith. Who no longer believe a student body such as yours can really change. “They’re spoiled, their egos allow them to believe they are still invincible even after their friends have died.” They reminded me that you seniors said a pledge in 2010 after that accident. What makes any pledge you say now different?  Actions speak louder than words after all.

So, let’s get a little less comfortable… 

9 out of 10 W&L drunk drivers are male.  And that is not because of the gender makeup of this student body.  The cars head to or from off-campus parties. Traveller will not always be running, and that system is not to blame. The off-campus parties… they will continue… we all know that.  And the housing system is not to blame.

You are the only part of this equation that can truly change things. 

One of the greatest things about Washington and Lee is its traditions. For so many, they are what set us apart from other schools. It is a school of honor, and this tradition guides you as you’re given academic freedom.  This is a town and campus with a decades-old speaking tradition. It is a tradition that builds community, linking us to one another in this small town. Now… it is time to create a new tradition- one of responsibility.  Responsibility to your fellow General.

 

Gentlemen…please look at the guy next to or closest to you.  If you do not know him… please introduce yourself.  He is now your responsibility.  Your fellow General for which you are responsible.

And ladies… you are complicit in this as well… you get in the cars. You let your friends get in the cars.  And some of you … also drive. Now ladies, please look at the woman closest to you.  Again, if you don’t know her… introduce yourself. She is your responsibility.  Your fellow General.

Take his or her keys. Do not let your friend or fellow General drive or get in the car. 

You are all some of the smartest young adults out there.  Every pledge class or social group needs a rotating list of drivers on call.  If that doesn’t work, then every set of roommates needs a sober driver.  You will survive a few parties sober. Trust the former athlete, it might not be quite as fun in your eyes now… but you’ll live. And so will your friends.   

Okay so I lied when I said I wouldn’t lecture you.  I am a mother after all.

Now, I would like you to close your eyes. I’d like to set a scene, one that you are all probably familiar with.

You are at a party at an off-campus house. You drove all of your friends, planning to leave your car there. Your roommate promises to drive you out there the next day to get it. As you make your way to the house, you notice kegs on the front porch and you stop to grab a beer. Music is blasting from the main room and it’s crowded as you make your way through. Good turn out… you think.

There’s a nice bonfire out back and you make your way outside again. You and your friends gather together and someone is telling a hilarious story about something that happened last night. You’re laughing, having fun – just blowing off steam. Hey… you’ve earned it.  The girl or guy you like is there and you work your way over to talk to them. You both grab another beer or two. You’re not counting.

After a while, the kegs run out.  And the guy or girl you were flirting with disappears. The party is starting to dwindle. You’ve been drinking… but only beer… and it’s been a while. You spot your car and think how nice it would be to leave. You don’t feel drunk. You tell yourself you’ll chug some water just in case. You really want your car in the morning. 

Some friends see you walking to your car and suddenly pile in the back.  A tightness forms in your stomach… a bit of nerves now that others are involved. There is a moment when you consider not driving.  But… these people are now counting on you to get them home.  It’s not that far… this is seriously the smallest town in the world… you think. So you hop behind the wheel.  

This isn’t that bad, you think to yourself, you can do this. After a while though, the roads start to wind around, curving after every turn. Driving has never felt so hard. You squint so that your eyes focus. You turn off the music but the girls in the back are shouting and laughing making it even harder. You roll down your window, fresh air will make this easier.

Suddenly, you realize you’re going faster than you should just as you hit another curve. You try turning with the road, but you turn too sharply … pull too hard on the wheel.

And just like that….  the car skids off the road. 

Your breath catches in your throat as you watch the car crash. The airbag hits you so hard it knocks the breath out of you. You face burns as if it’s on fire. You taste blood in your mouth… cut from the airbag’s impact. There’s a stabbing pain in your side, probably broken ribs.

As you slowly open your eyes, you see a cracked windshield. There’s blood on the roof of the car… but you don’t know who’s.  The sound of the horn is deafening – suddenly realize your body weight is what’s causing it but you can’t move. You hear movement in the backseat. Moaning and someone is crying. There is a muffled scream but you can’t tell where it’s coming from.

Can you hear them?

You wait for help for what feels like an eternity. Finally, the scene is filled with flashing lights. You are hauled to the side of the road and all you want to know is how your friends are. Why won’t anyone tell you if they’re okay?

As you are put in the ambulance you hear the worst screaming you’ve ever heard in your life. And then you see them. A person on the side of the road. They must have been thrown from the car.

Who is that?

Can you see them?

Now… imagine it’s Meredith or Caroline, Bobby or Russell, Mark or David…..

Today, you are lucky that they are all still here. All of you have a clean slate to make the right choices. Starting right now.

I’d now like to take a moment and remember those who died or who are forever changed by drunk driving while students at Washington and Lee. They were or are boyfriends, girlfriends, best friends, teammates, roommates, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters. They too are Generals.

Randolph Chitwood

John Hunter

Daniel Martin

David Thompson

Kelly Radford

Kristin Shelton

Adam Burchett

Kevin Dyer

Natalie Stier

Kelsey Durkin

You are adults now.  Your choices are what define you. They make up your character and are what ultimately make or break you.  This school has done everything imaginable to protect you. To help you make the right choices. But in the end… it is up to you.

The adage I leave you with has been around for a long time. 

Friends don’t let friends drink and drive.
 

It’s time for a new tradition here beyond the speaking tradition and one of honor. It’s time for a tradition of being responsible to your fellow General.

Be Generals strong.

Thank you.

Dear W&L Alums,

I’m reaching out because I need your help. I need you to take a few moments and remember your W&L days. The glory days. The wild and incredible ride college was for all of us. I need you to remember your roommates, your classmates. Remember the fun you had. The incredible gift our classes were. That first time you walked over the footbridge. Remember the feeling you have when you’re on campus. The beauty of Lexington. Remember the drives to Goshen, floating down the river, the hiking trips. Remember the fraternities and sororities- what they meant to each of us if you were a part of them. Remember the people’s faces who made up those four (or occasionally five) years. Remember the parties. The bands and jump dancing. Remember those wild nights far out of town. Now try to remember how you got home. How did your friends get home? 

I know it’s uncomfortable, but I need you to remember how drinking and driving touched your life back then. I would love to learn of the friends you lost and how that loss or losses impacted your life then and now.

After the tragic loss of Kelsey Durkin last fall, I wrote a letter to the students. It was supposed to serve as a small call to action for the student body.. if anyone read it. I was shocked at the reception it had and so happy that it helped so many who were grieving. Recently, a student reached out and asked if I would participate in the Inaugural Generals Weekend, hosted by the Kelsey Committee, this spring during alumni weekend. To kick off the weekend, there will be a talk in Lee Chapel where I have been asked to give a speech.  I only have my story to tell, you see, so this is where you come in. I would much prefer to also share the insights you have gained from senselessly losing our friends at far too young an age.

So if you will, please email me your thoughts and memories of your friends at southarddiaries@gmail.com. I hope you’ll help me make this upcoming weekend a celebration of their lives and give current students perspective on this troubling topic.

Much love,

Eloise

A Good Year

A good year. The title of one of our all-time favorite movies. And a sentiment that’s not close to befitting the kind of year we’ve had.  

More like overwhelmingly emotional. Excruciating. Beautiful. Soul searching. Full of extreme highs… and lows. 

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When the year started, the term “basket case” doesn’t even do me justice. I was a shell of a person, yet I had to leave my seemingly fragile first born child and return to work. We had just started therapy and added feeding therapy. How could I leave her and focus on anything else other than her needs. How could I sit at a desk and not sob daily? Only with the intense love of my colleagues did I find my way back again. Find out how to use my brain for other things other than research. I learned how to exist in two worlds- work Eloise and new special needs mom Eloise. I felt bipolar. Emotional wreck and stable, productive worker bee. 

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I had already started blogging about her on here. I had put our story out into the ethos and the bubble of love had begun to form around my heart. Protecting me from those awful appointments in cold doctors’ offices. 

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The frozen tundra of Central Park began to unfreeze just as I started to come out of my shell. As winter subsided and welcomed a New York City spring- our new life started to feel more comfortable. This is who we are. This is our life. Those words felt less terrifying.

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Until… we started planning her first surgery. Not the most major she would ever have. Not the scariest. But… signing some of those documents, watching her being taken for anesthesia. Cuddling her post-op with marker on her face and almost purple complexion. I came so close to the brink emotionally. With my family and friends’ love… I didn’t go over that edge. It was the second biggest hurdle I’ve faced in my life. The first being  her birth. Watching her thrive afterwards though was the first time I truly understood how much I was going to learn from my daughter the rest of my life. She would teach me strength. She would show me how not to dwell on the terrifying… just find the resolve to move on. Start a new day with a huge smile like nothing happened the day before. 

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By summer we truly had a routine. A life that felt natural… telling our story was second nature. I could tell anyone anything they wanted to know with full confidence. No shaking voice. No hesitation. I was certainly forever changed, but I’d returned to myself. I could focus on other things in my life. And.. upon a trip south with the family… we made a plan. We had the conversation seriously this time about leaving our city. Venturing to imagine a different life than we’d known for a decade. We chose Charleston and started madly making plans. 

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Amidst the rolling hills and winding roads, we celebrated bug’s BIG birthday in September. We gathered at my alma mater to celebrate so much. Our survival for one. Lacrosse another. And family. How our tapestries as individual families have begun to really weave together. New traditions and old going hand in hand. And I got to share a significant piece of my heart with my daughter. I dreamed of what it would be like for her to go to W&L. For her to follow in her momma’s footsteps. That weekend was the most special I had this year. It’s made me dream of Lexington ever since and reaffirmed that a smaller town was the best choice for us. It was clearly our destiny. 

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With the promise of a new life for our new family, we focused on Charleston. We told our friends. We told our jobs. We picked a date and it rapidly approached. All too soon, boxes littered our small Columbus Circle apartment and a future house was closer to a reality. Then came the goodbyes. Within both of my worlds- the mother and the worker… I had found such nurturing homes. At Clarke and at work- I had friends who helped piece me back together. I hadn’t a clue how to extract myself from such nurturing places. How to leave these people… for essentially one or two friends in my new life. I was leaving a city I loved and a decade of memories to stay for a year in a town of retirees and off season beach goers.  I didn’t want the city life anymore but was I crazy? My closest set of friends were over an hour away. But… this was a choice for Landon. For my family. For future dreams.  I didn’t come first anymore. And off we went.

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Our life here has been transformative, frustrating, love-filled, memory making, challenging and full of growth. Our marriage has been stitched back together. Our family has learned how to coexist in this sleepy town, during winter of all seasons. I feel more hopeful for our future than I ever have. Our dreams are closer to a reality. Our hearts brimming with pride over how much Landon has grown here. With freedom to roam… literally.. she’s taken off. 

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As this year comes to a close… I am in awe at where we started and all that’s happened. As we all should, I have reflected on my own personal growth. I learned how to be a warrior. I learned how to run towards the challenges. Embrace the would-be pain and turn it into love. I’ve learned to believe in myself. Trust my instincts as a mother and a wife. 

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2014 feels daunting- building our first house, building a business and a nonprofit. Building a new life in a new city. If this past year has taught me anything though it’s that we’re capable of hard things. We can succeed at anything if it’s done together. 

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So.. dear readers… our little family wishes y’all a very happy new year. I hope your time of reflection gives you peace and resolve for this next chapter in your own lives. Thank you for the love. Thank you for the support. We can’t wait to start this new journey with you.

xoxo,

Eloise

Go Generals

Since writing my post about drunk driving at W&L, my little blog has welcomed most of the student body, a good number of the faculty and countless alumni. I have received many emails all with the same heartfelt thanks and solidarity around a student body pledge. 

Welcome my new friends. Your notes, anonymous or not,  have given me resolve that in the Generals’ community – we do in fact belong to each other. There was a resounding “yes!!!” heard all across the country in response to the call to action. The administration has commented they’ve read it and understand its significance. For that I’m also grateful.

What we must do now as a community is to keep the conversation alive. After the memorials or funerals I attended as a student, we grieved and then we tried to move on. One foot in front of the other, and one day at a time. On campus, things progressed forward. Classes and exams were taken.  We all, one by one and as a group moved on. We stopped mentioning the students’ names because it was too painful. Or we felt guilt because it was so easy for the injured or worse to have been us. Some wouldn’t go see our friend in UVA’s ICU because it was too painful and they were too scared. We didn’t continue to have the sober ride conversation.  And life… happened. 

The response I’ve had from you current students indicates that you want things to change. That you want to learn from our mistakes and lack of real action before this moment. I’ve heard from many kids who were at that party or hosted it. I’ve heard from some mothers of girls in the car. All of you were grateful there was someone who said what you were feeling. Everyone has been in agreement that this must happen and you will do something to make sure it does.

So here is my reminder to do so.  Keep talking about Kelsey. Keep talking about those in the hospital and go see them.  And please, please keep talking about this pledge. Keep mentioning it to the administration.  

MAKE. IT. HAPPEN.  

Only you can. You are there and I am here. I only have a computer- you have their ears. You can see them in person. You can do this.  I know you can do this because W&L students can do great things. Hard things.  It’s in our DNA. 

And to those of you who have emailed wonderful things about my daughter- thank you dearly. She has been the focus of our story on here as you could all tell from reading. It’s wonderful to continue to have such a positive response to her story.

With so much love and gratitude,

Eloise

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Dear W&L Students…

You don’t know me. We have never met. I’m a former General, former lacrosse player, former Kappa. Although you don’t know me, I’ve always felt that the W&L community really belongs to one another. We’re connected to each other through a deep love for our school, our traditions, our community. That’s why I’m writing to you. I know your hearts are breaking today. I know there’s nothing your family or friends can say, let alone a stranger, to make you feel better. You will just need to grieve for a while. 

Whether Kelsey was one of your best friends, a classmate, a sorority sister or you just knew her name…I know it hurts.  I know your sadness and the vigils you’re holding for the other students still in the hospital. I know the anger, frustration and shell shocked grief that is gripping you.  Sadly… almost every W&L student knows these emotions as well… all too well. 

Every single alumni that I know knows what it’s like to lose someone we care about or to come close to losing someone or both.  We remember their faces, we remember their names, we remember the funerals and memorials, we remember the visits to the ICU and the flowers we brought to their bedsides. It still hurts to remember those days after the accidents… when we didn’t know what to do with ourselves. We didn’t know where to turn or what to say. I remember the wave of relief upon moving out of Lexington because the statistics of being in a drunk driving accident would go down. And yet…. year after year, the emails come. The alumni network emails of accident after accident. My kappa girls all shouting over email “again!!” and “why?!” 

Drinking and driving happens at all schools, I know that. But…it truly feels like it happens MORE often at our school. It’s probably the size of the school. The student body is one of the smallest out there. It’s probably due to the fact that by our sophomore years, we know almost every student’s name on campus. Yet even with Traveler (the sober ride system) being founded by two of my dear friends, it still happens. We still relive this pain annually.

We can blame the school for not sanctioning Traveler to all parties (which is seemingly impossible), we can blame the houses for being too far out of town, we can blame the party throwers for not offering sober rides home.  We can blame lots of people and some of them do require blame.  But… it’s time for you students to act. It’s time for each incoming class to sign a sober driving pledge.  It’s time for all of you to realize you are not invincible. That if you drive or allow your friend to drive drunk… someone WILL get hurt. They do every damn year.

Promise each other that this will stop. Promise your parents that you’ll think twice, call a friend who is in the library, call your sorority or fraternity brother, call a classmate, call anyone… that was not drinking to come get you.  They will. That’s the thing about W&L… more than any other school I’ve witnessed… we Generals belong to each other. We serve one another in the community and we show up for one another when someone is in need. If we belong to one another like we say we do, let’s make each class take this pledge and hold each other to it. 

Our school is notorious for scaring freshman with the EC lecture in Lee Chapel, and therefore cheating rarely happens. Students are more than honest with what they perceive to be cheating. Honesty and forthrightness are two of the most common traits. So PLEASE fold into that same lecture in Lee Chapel one about drunk driving. Talk about it. Make it known that this happens almost every single year and we are all sick and tired of being heartbroken. Show the students’ faces who have passed away. Show photos of the accidents. Show students that they DO have a choice. They do not have to get behind the wheel or in the car when someone does.

So… I’m asking you today, do something with your grief. Do something for Kelsey. Take a stand. Say a pledge. Stop drinking and driving… PLEASE.

I’m thinking of and praying for you now and always.

xoxo,

Eloise

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