Eleanor Cox is an honor student at North Andover High School outside Boston and was, until recently, captain of the school’s volleyball team. Thanks to her school’s “zero tolerance” policy, however, she’s now been suspended from the team and will no longer serve as captain — all because she offered a ride to a friend who was too drunk to drive herself home. Cox was not drinking.
Cox received a call from a friend at a party who was too drunk to drive and agreed to drive the friend home, but she was unfortunate enough to arrive to pick up the friend minutes before cops arrived and arrested several party-goers for underage possession of alcohol. Police cleared Cox of any charges against her, but the school still punished her pursuant to its zero tolerance policy, regardless.
As Cox’s attorney notes, the likely impact of this decision will be that students at North Andover will be too scared of similar consequences to come to the aid of a friend in need — “If a kid asks for help from a friend, you don’t want that kid to say ‘I’m sorry I can’t help you. I might end up in trouble at school.’” That’s not likely to deter any students from drinking, but it will encourage them to drive drunk afterwards because they cannot find a designated driver.
Cox’s mother, to her credit, stands by her daughter. “She didn’t do anything wrong. She did what she thought was right, and I’m very proud of her.”