Dr. Elizabeth Gonzalez (prosecution witness)
I am a staff psychologist at a substance abuse center in town. Why do people drink to excess? Typically, this type of behavior takes place through the influence of the people around them, as happened to Kelly Greene. When most 18-year-old students enter college, they do not have a drinking problem. However, although few realize it, these unwary young people are entering a culture in which alcohol is the drug of choice. It is a drug that can easily destroy their lives.
According to some estimates, between 80% and 90% of the students on many campuses drink alcohol. Many of these students are heavy drinkers. One study found that nearly 30% of university students are heavy drinkers, consuming more than 15 alcoholic drinks per week. Another study found that among those who drink at least once a week, 92% of the men and 82% of the women consume at least five drinks in a row, and half said they wanted to get drunk. The results of all of this drinking are predictably deadly.
Virtually all college administrators agree that alcohol is the most widely used drug among college students and that its abuse is directly related to emotional problems and violent behavior, ranging from date rape to death. For example, at one university, a 20-year-old woman became drunk at a fraternity party and fell to her death from the third floor. At another university, two students were killed in a drunk-driving accident after drinking alcohol at an off-campus fraternity house. The families of both students have filed lawsuits against the fraternity. When students like Kelly Greene enter a college or university, they soon become socialized into the alcohol-sodden culture of “higher education,” typically at parties like the one hosted by Mr. Randall.
The influence of peer pressure is enormous. When your friends and fellow students are encouraging you to drink, it is extremely difficult to resist giving in to these pressures. In my judgment, students like Kelly Greene are corrupted by people like Tom Randall. He must share in the responsibility for her personal tragedy and for the harm that resulted from it.
Is the information provided by Dr. Gonzalez relevant to the guilt or innocence of Tom Randall? Why, or why not?