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Saturday, September 21, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Clark: Grade-school concept lost on college students

It’s been inspiring watching Wazzu revitalize itself.

Images of rioting students and Dumpsters ablaze from years gone by have all but faded from public memory.

Gone, too, are the days when Washington State University made the list of the nation’s top party schools.

New coach.

New attitude.

Cougar days are here again.

There’s just one blemish left for Cougdom to take care of.

Just a thought: I’d like to see university officials take some of the money they’re pumping into those cheesy “Wave the Flag” commercials and put it into a gravity awareness program.

Similar to getting a driver’s license, every fraternity and sorority member would be required to study hard and take an oath vowing to not break the law of gravity.

Newton would be part of the curriculum along with a class exercise proving that a dropped object will descend at the same rate whether it’s a feather or full keg of Bud.

Until an appropriate respect for gravity is demonstrated, students would have to live in pup tents on the front lawns of Greek Row.

That way any foolish late-night falls would be pretty much harmless.

I know. It sounds like I’m joking.

I’m not.

What I am is sick of seeing headlines like the one that appeared in Sunday’s newspaper.

“WSU student falls from fraternity window.”

I haven’t done an analytical study on this, but I do know this phenomenon occurs way too often.

Last Friday, for example.

A 19-year-old student fell three stories from a Phi Kappa Tau window at about 3 a.m., according to our story.

Discovered in a window well, he “was taken to Pullman Regional Hospital with undisclosed injuries.”

As a father of two, I can barely imagine the devastation at receiving a phone call like the one his parents must have received.

My heart goes out to them and their child.

But let’s not pick on just WSU. Just a few days earlier, a 21-year-old student fell from a two-story fraternity window at the University of Idaho.

The student was apparently up on the roof after midnight, trying to get into a room through a locked window.

Lord. Here the leaves haven’t fallen off the trees yet, and we’ve already had two students take frat house headers.

If I sound a bit touchy about this subject it’s because I am.

My family has been touched twice by the cruel consequences of gravity.

My late-mother-in-law lived over 30 years as a paraplegic that resulted from a plane crash.

Several years ago, my son’s best friend was paralyzed from a fall at a construction site.

Accidents come with living, of course. What makes my blood burn is that so many of these student falls are avoidable.

Drinking, while not always the case, is often at the core of these tragedies, dulling judgment, clouding common sense.

It’s a grave reality: Lit- up students will fall down.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by email at

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