By Paige Carswell
No one is to blame in Declan Sullivan’s death. When the 20-year-old videographer died when the 40-foot hydraulic lift he was recording football practice on blew over, there simply wasn’t anyone at fault, according to Notre Dame University officials.
Never mind that there was wind gusting at 53 miles per hour. That wasn’t anyone’s fault. They’d stopped measuring the wind speed before practice started.
The investigations have ended and officials have concluded that there isn’t a single person at fault. Of course, all that means is that everyone is at fault. No one would send one of the players who was practicing atop a 40-foot lift in wind like that, but, no one considered the videographer as part of the team. He showed up to practice each day and he devoted his time, but ultimately, that wasn’t enough to be considered “part of things.”
All it would have taken was a little bit of common sense—perhaps someone telling the student to come down. But, even if no one did that, there should have been some kind of written rule. Unwritten rule stated that in wind over 35 mph, they came down. The question of as to why no one thought of that is a mystery, but it wouldn’t be if it had been a written rule of safety.
But, the point is, someone needs to have stepped up and taken the blame. Not the head athletic trainer, and not the director of football video and film. The coach blamed those people, who didn’t tell him to have practice inside. Those people blamed the fact that no one was responsible for measuring the wind.
At a place like Southwestern, I don’t imagine there would be a problem like this. The atmosphere seems open, and people seem to legitimately care about one another. When the winds are gusting like that, I don’t think anyone would ask a student to climb atop a 40-foot lift—I doubt they’d ask them to climb a 20-foot lift.
But, if they did, I would hope that someone would take responsibility for the matter. This is a student’s life. His parents are satisfied with the report. But, where’s the credibility, Notre Dame? What do you tell to your future students?
The implication is that don’t care, and maybe you don’t. But, if you want more students, you had better start. While Sullivan’s parents are satisfied, hundreds of parents across the country, wondering where to send their child to college, won’t be.
Paige Carswell is a senior majoring in journalism. You may e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.