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Week warns, promotes alcohol moderation

Marcela Berrios | Thursday, March 8, 2007

With the slogan “BAC to the Beach: Here for the singe, not the binge,” the organizers of Safe Spring Break/Alcohol Awareness Week 2007 warned students to exercise moderation in their vacation alcohol intake during an information fair in LaFortune Student Center Wednesday.

Student government, the Office of Drug and Alcohol Education (ODAE), Peers Inspiring Listening, Learning And Responsible Socializing (PILLARS) and the Coca-Cola Company put together a series of activities and giveaways throughout this week to educate students about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse during the vacation.

“We always run Alcohol Awareness Week before spring break because people go to places where it’s legal to drink before they’re 21 years old,” junior Meagan McGinley, a member of the PILLARS team, said. “Many students may consciously or unintentionally abuse that privilege, and it’s important to educate them about the risks implied.”

McGinley said students should be aware of the blood-alcohol content (BAC) their bodies can tolerate before their decision-making skills are impaired and before their health is put on the line.

Organizers handed out free Safe Spring Break merchandise in the dining halls Monday to kick off Alcohol Awareness Week, followed by Tuesday’s free T-shirt give-away at the Fieldhouse Mall.

Senior Patrick Knapp, chair of the Student Senate’s Residence Life committee, said the T-shirt giveaway was an overwhelming success.

“We ran out of free Safe Spring Break T-shirts in a record 1.25 hours despite freezing temperatures on the Fieldhouse Mall,” Knapp said. “Last year it took more than two hours.”

BAC cards were also gone in approximately one hour during the BAC card giveaways at the dining halls Tuesday, said Christine Nowak, director of ODAE.

She said the cards gave students an estimate of the rates at which each gender’s bodies absorb alcohol, depending on weight.

In Wednesday’s efforts to promote responsible drinking during the break, PILLARS and ODAE representatives at the information fair handed out more free merchandise and brochures informing students about the alcohol equivalencies of different beverages and the different effects they may have on a person’s sobriety.

“Not all drinks are created equal,” McGinley said. “If students don’t know how much alcohol is poured into each drink they have, they’re at a higher risk of compromising their decision-making skills and putting themselves in circumstances where they’re not in full control of their actions.”

An ODAE handout said 12 ounces of beer contained the same amount of alcohol as 1.25 ounces of liquor or 4.5 ounces of wine. Consequently, when students drink from a 16-ounce cup, the contents of the cup – and not the number of cups – should determine the amount of drinks the student gulps.

“Even experienced drinkers may not be aware that when they have only two Long Island ice teas, they’re not really having just two drinks because each Long Island ice tea in reality contains as much alcohol as five beers,” McGinley said.

Sophomore Michael Call, a fellow PILLARS member, echoed McGinley’s warnings and stressed the importance of educating students about responsible drinking.

“Alcohol Awareness Week is necessary at Notre Dame and every college campus because the things students learn in college are usually the things that stay with them throughout their adulthood,” he said. “And you want people who can discern between the right amount of social drinks and excessive drunkenness.”

The University Health Services and Notre Dame Security Police were also present at the information fair with supplementary health advice and free Safe Spring Break merchandise, respectively.

Alcohol Awareness Week will conclude on Friday with a Coca-Cola giveaway at the Fieldhouse Mall.

Nowak said Coca-Cola has co-sponsored Notre Dame’s Alcohol Awareness Week in recent years as part of the corporation’s commitment to the prevention of drug and alcohol abuse among teenagers and underage college students.

Knapp said Coca-cola participated by donating free Coke products.