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ND groups hold fair to promote ‘Safe Spring Break’

Ryan Sydlik | Monday, March 6, 2006

Spring break might be a long midterm exam week away, but various campus groups and offices are getting a jump on the break by giving information to students about how to enjoy it safely.

Friday’s Safe Spring Break Fair in LaFortune Ballroom was part of week-long program hosted by Student Government, Pillars and the Office of Drug and Alcohol Education. Gina Firth, the Director of Alcohol and Drug Education, said other events earlier in the week included distributing blood alcohol concentration awareness cards in the dining halls and giving away safe spring break T-shirts.

Firth also said speaker Randy Haveson addressed students as part of safe spring break week Wednesday on how to party with a plan and “how to decrease your risk if you choose to use alcohol.”

The Safe Spring Break Fair was the final event of the week. Firth said its purpose was to give students harm reduction information to stay safe over break.

Many campus offices were present at the fair to provide information about safety, including University Health Services, the University Counseling Center, gender relations, security, transportation and even international student services.

Firth said aspects of spring break addressed at the fair included advice to students traveling abroad to Latin American countries, preventing “Montezuma’s revenge,” sexual assault and rape prevention, what to do during carjacking attempts and “the realities of hooking up.”

The fair also addressed issues in relation to alcohol, such as drinking and driving with impaired vision goggles, a pledge not to drink and drive and blood alcohol intoxication awareness information.

In addition to information tables, the fair had fun attractions such as “mocktails” (fruit drinks sans alcohol), popcorn, a basketball toss with beer goggles, music and tropical scenery.

Unlike spring break send-offs at other colleges, however, Firth said the Spring Break Fair did not provide condoms.

“Notre Dame is a Catholic University and we do not promote that,” she said.

This was the second year for the fair. Firth said this year’s fair was an “absolute success,” citing the large amount of people that arrived as soon as it started.

Sophomore Sarah Waller, the tobacco prevention committee prevention chair for Pillars, said she was surprised to see the number of people at the event.

“It’s hard to tell if you are making a difference, but even if it only makes a difference with one person, it is better than no effect at all,” Waller said.

University staff psychologist Carl Williams said his role at the fair was to promote healthy decision-making about sexual activity and drinking.

“We are helping people to slow down and give it more thought,” he said. “[The] University values this [fair] and is putting in a large number of resources to help students make decisions.”

Sophomore Jessica Nelson took part in the fair as a Pillars member.

“We are not here to make judgments,” Nelson said. “We are here to give people information so that they can make good judgments.”

Senior Laurel Thomsen said she was attracted to the event because of the posters and free giveaways. However, Thomsen also said she “thought it would be valuable because I will be heading down south and the Mexico stuff interested me.”

Freshman Erin Robertson also attended the event.

“My friend mentioned she had heard about the event, and I was coming through LaFortune and heard noise,” she said.

Robertson said she enjoyed the fair and felt the presenters put forth their information in a positive way.

“I think this is a really neat way to make this informational as well as fun,” she said. “Sometimes people get bogged down by people [merely] saying don’t drink, but this is a nice way to get the point [of safety] across.”