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posted: 8/14/2014 8:08 AM

Editorial: Glenbard right to enforce athletic code

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The Daily Herald Editorial Board

There are several issues surrounding the controversy over the enforcement of the Glenbard West High School athletic code. But the bottom line is this: The code was in place, the students and parents knew or should have known of its existence and the students who have been punished broke the code's rules.

Was the investigation handled appropriately? Is the code too harsh? Should it be modified? We don't think it should, but that's a legitimate discussion for the school board, administrators and parents to have. But any changes shouldn't and can't be retroactive.

In short, 30 student-athletes attended a party where drinking alcohol was involved. There likely were even more students there, but they were not caught.

The names of those who were caught -- whether drinking or not -- were turned over to school authorities by Glen Ellyn police. Those student-athletes have been suspended from their particular sports -- some for a portion of the season and some, who have been punished before, for the entire season.

Many parents of these athletes feel the code is too excessive in its punishment of those who were not drinking but were present where drinking was occurring.

To us and to many experts interviewed by staff writer Eric Peterson in a story in Wednesday's Daily Herald, that no-tolerance policy is potentially lifesaving.

"You want to be with your friends and have a good time, but you don't have to have alcohol to have a good time," said Robyn Block, Illinois coordinator for Students Against Destructive Decisions. "There are so many things that can go wrong when you throw alcohol into the mix."

Added Laura Larson-Gibbons, positive youth development coordinator at the Elk Grove Village-based Kenneth Young Center: "The purpose of the policies (at various high schools) is not to be punitive; it's to be positive."

But perhaps the best defense of this policy comes not from an adult, but from a student who was unafraid to speak out. Such a student was Patricia Stirb, a Glenbard West High School volleyball player and senior student liaison to the Glenbard District 87 school board who told the board Monday night that those involved made "poor decision-making choices."

"As athletes it is our duty to represent our team, coach, school, district and community," she said. "It should be self-evident that the moment we put on a Glenbard West jersey we are representing the school and should therefore act as role models. Thus we should abide by the Glenbard District Athletic Code."

Stirb's parents should be proud of their daughter. She understands why there are rules and what the consequences are if they are broken.

It's really a simple concept and one other parents should be teaching their children as well.

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