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Gorge Safety Presentation

Molly Smith

Gamma chapter recently hosted a Gorge Safety presentation where the Natural Areas Director, Mr. Todd Bittner, came to speak to the brotherhood. I found the presentation very comprehensive and it touched on some key points about gorge safety.

The presentation began with a short video that showed why the gorges are so dangerous. The uneven bottom of a pool has strong undertones that can easily pull someone down. Even the strongest of swimmers cannot fight against it. These small eddies are easy to get trapped under and it is almost impossible to fight against it. Mr. Bittner then moved on to discuss some of the stories of students who sadly died swimming in the gorges. It was very alarming to me that some of the things these students said before swimming like, “I’m a strong swimmer” or “I’ve done this before” are the same things I hear my friends say now.

There was no gorge safety program at Cornell before the Rand family decided to make it happen. After they sadly lost their son, they wanted to make sure this does not happen to another family. They pushed Cornell to create this program and to show students the gorges are much more dangerous than they appear. The entire gorge safety program is named in memory of Nathaniel Rand, who was also a brother in gamma chapter. Our Philanthropy cause is donating to the Children’s Hospital of Montefiore in his name.

What hurt the most to hear is that the Rand family is not the only family to lose a child due to unsafe swimming in the gorges. This past school year, two students died in the gorges. One was an incoming Freshman, about to start fall semester, and the other student was a week away from graduation and planning on going to Michigan Medical School in the fall. Hearing these stories and how these students’ lives were cut too short made me so upset. No student should have their future taken away from them because of the gorges. Swimming in areas with a lifeguard is a simple way to take away to protect yourself. It is heartbreaking to hear these students had such bright futures ahead of them will not be able to see them. It was great to have this presentation to hopefully dissuade other students from swimming in these areas.