Greek Community Plans Alcohol Awareness Week

Posted: October 16, 2009 at 1:02 am, Last Updated: October 15, 2009 at 4:04 pm

By Catherine Ferraro

According to research reported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, drinking by college students age 18 to 24 years old contributes to an estimated 1,700 student deaths, 599,000 injuries and 97,000 cases of sexual assault or date rape each year.

In light of these startling statistics, students involved in Mason’s Greek community have launched Alcohol Awareness Week. The observance takes place from Monday, Oct. 19, through Friday, Oct. 23, and is designed to bring awareness to and educate the Mason community about the consequences of excessive drinking.

After creating a new risk management position, one of the goals of the Panhellenic Executive Council was to create programming activities in support of this issue. Courtney Webber, a senior tourism and events management major who occupies the risk management position, led a committee whose members came from the Greek community and the Office of Alcohol, Drug and Health Education to plan Alcohol Awareness Week.

“It was very important to us that the Greek community take the initiative to make this an annual event,” says Webber. “We want to show that the Greek community cares about their fellow students and wants to do what they can to help students make educated decisions.”

Partnering with Program Board and the Office of Alcohol, Drug and Health Education, the committee planned several events that will take place throughout the week and emphasize education and awareness.

  • Kiosks will be set up at various locations on campus and will provide students with educational information about how to deal with or help others with alcohol-related problems and how to have fun without drinking. Kiosks will be available on Monday, Oct. 19, through Thursday, Oct. 22, from noon to 4 p.m. Students who visit the kiosks will be asked to sign a pledge to abstain from alcohol for the week. Individuals and organizations who sign the pledge will have their names put on a demonstration driver’s license or license plate that will be displayed at the kiosk and in Patriot’s Lounge.
  • This year, Greek Speak, an annual event that features a speaker who addresses a topic pertinent to the Greek community, will be incorporated into Alcohol Awareness Week. Bernie McGrenahan will deliver a comedy show that focuses on an educational message about alcohol based on his own experiences. The event is open only to the Greek community and will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 20, at 7 p.m. in the Student Union Building II Ballroom.
  • On Wednesday, Oct. 21, students can participate in a relay race wearing goggles that will impair their vision and reflexes. In teams of three or four, participants will navigate an obstacle course of ordinarily simple activities such as walking in a straight line or through traffic cones.
  • To remember those who have been affected by an alcohol-related issue, a candlelight vigil will be held on Thursday, Oct. 22, from 8 to 9 p.m. on the Quad. Members from the Mason community will be invited to speak at the vigil and share their experiences with alcohol.
  • Students who venture onto the Quad on Thursday, Oct. 23, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., will be able to participate in a DUI simulator. The planning committee obtained a car that will be parked on the Quad. Students can “drive” the vehicle wearing virtual reality goggles. Students will begin “driving” sober, and depending on factors such as weight, age and sex, the goggles will gradually “intoxicate” them. Two screens will be set up outside the vehicle so that bystanders can observe. At the end of the driving test, students will be given a report of their traffic violations.
  • Alcohol Awareness Week will end with a 1980s-themed event planned by Program Board on Friday, Oct. 23, from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. in the Johnson Center’s Dewberry Hall. Featuring an ‘80s cover band called Judo Chop, competitions and arts and crafts, the event is intended to show students that they can have fun without drinking.

“Our goal is to make Alcohol Awareness Week an annual event and have more opportunities for collaboration with various offices and departments at Mason,” says Chelsea Cunningham, graduate assistant for Fraternity and Sorority Life and a member of the planning committee. “We hope that the entire Mason community comes out to the events to show their support for one another and to help make Alcohol Awareness Week a success.”

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