Student-athletes who drink called “losers”

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Last week, the Athletics Department held a mandatory substance awareness meeting for all Rhode Island College student athletes, with guest speaker Peter DiGiulio. These meetings often focus on the dangers associated with the use of drugs and alcohol, their effect on performance, the damage overuse can do to your life and the penalties for any student-athlete regarding the use of such substances. But, the most recent meeting seemed to focus less on drugs, and more on a student’s character if they suffer from addiction.

“If you are sitting here in front of me, and you are an alcoholic, you will always be an alcoholic,” said DiGiulio. It was only one of the comments that caught a lot of attention and raised eyebrows across the Murray Center bleachers.

DiGiulio is a nationally known and NCAA-endorsed public speaker who deals with the topic of substance abuse. Before being invited to RIC, he sent the Athletic Department a packet full of information about himself, including numerous letters from high school athletic directors praising his presentation. DiGiulio, a 1973 Boston College Graduate, explains in the packet how he does not merely coerce kids to “Just Say No!” but instead ask “Why Say No?”

“My family has a lot of drug use in it. The way [DiGiulio] went about it was honestly ignorant and insulting,” one student athlete asserted.

Defeating an alcohol or drug addiction is a very difficult and painful process for those in recovery, and suggesting that alcoholics will never be capable of rising above their addiction, is not constructive in a meeting intended to lead students away from the path of overuse.

DiGiulio’s adamant views on alcohol and marijuana were made clear.

“I don’t like to be challenged,” he stated, “if you get drunk or smoke weed, you are a loser in life,” he went on to say.

He accuses marijuana users of being sneaky and unwilling to admit that they were users, saying that “you lie, you deny, you rationalize,” and challenging how they could truly believe that doing so was not wrong if they felt the need to hide it.

“You can’t handle the truth,” he added, quoting the 1992 film “A Few Good Men.”

During the speech Mr. DiGiulio often emphasized how important looking at the facts can be, but then contradicted himself by speaking out against using statistics.

“Statistics are for losers. If you asked me to tell you the statistics, I’d tell you to get out…Let’s not talk about statistics, let’s talk about facts,” he said.

“My impression is this is someone who is leading with emotions and not facts, and that alone, means they should be disregarded in this sense. This is an expression of opinion and a heavily biased one at that, and frankly someone like that shouldn’t be speaking on a college campus,” another Rhode Island College student-athlete says regarding DiGiulio’s credibility.

The reaction of one student-athlete following the speech; “He was pretty much telling us all ‘I know more about drugs than you,’ yet he didn’t even seem that knowledgeable about them.”

DiGiulio also shared a story regarding a nurse’s claims about alcohol. The nurse had dismissed the claim DiGiulio had made, when someone passed out after drinking at a party their kidney automatically shut down.  He confided to the audience that he was a, “very politically incorrect person,” and that he would not even let a registered nurse convince him his views were incorrect.

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