Every year since 2007, the University has held its Designated HERO of the Year Award Ceremony, a national movement to prevent drunk driving accidents that came as a result of the death of Ensign Elliott, a May 2000 graduate of the United States Naval Academy who was killed in a head-on collision with a drunken driver on July 22, 2000.
In this ceremony, students nominate themselves or someone they know and the HERO Campaign Group at the University chooses a winner. The purpose of this ceremony is to prevent tragedies that come as a result of drunk driving by awarding the usage of sober designated drivers.
However, is this definition of a “hero” one that is universal to those outside of a university community? According to some of The Outlook staff, the meaning of a “hero” as being someone who serves as a designated driver is one that belongs to the University but could also be considered a stretch for the world at large.
To many college students, a “hero” is someone who saves girls from waiting in the cold in the Cedar parking lot as they wait for their cabs or volunteers to “take one for the team” by being the designated driver. They step up in times of need, sometimes sacrificing their own fun, to ensure that their friends get home safely. Rarely are they thanked or recognized.
The University rewards these students by giving them an award of $50 to $300 (depending on their place). However, here at The Outlook we also believe that driving sober is something that we should be compelled to do without needing to be rewarded for it.
A real hero, in the real world, is someone who does good deeds as a matter of principle, triumphs over adversity to set an example, and tries to stop others from doing wrongful acts. They go out of their way to help someone else when there isn’t necessarily a reward for it and they don’t expect praise. They chat with the person sitting alone on the Plangere couches, they speak up when they see a girl walking home at 10:05 pm after classes realize that she is being followed.
At The Outlook, we also believe that heroic acts such as these happen everyday- in ways that are either obvious or unnoticeable. Often, they happen so quickly that the people performing them are granted no recognition, possibly because we are so used to seeing these tiny heroic acts that we barely even notice them.
Yet at the same time, those little things in life cannot always be rewarded, and we should have appreciation for any time that a person is rewarded for a selfless act, even if it is one associated with drunken college nights.
The distinctive college atmosphere unfortunately diminishes real heroism a little bit. There are tons of students right here on our own campus who do more than just designated drive for their friends- they make a real difference for those in their community, such as our own Debate Hawks mentoring the Asbury Park Debate Team, where the graduation rate at Asbury Park High School is only 54 percent (read more about this on page 8).
We believe at The Outlook that the HERO Awards should be renamed- it is perfectly acceptable to reward those who volunteer to designated drive, but other heroes-real life heroes; need to be granted the same recognition, if not more. It’s great to make sure that all your friends get home in one piece, but it’s even better to make the community itself a better place for all.