Alcohol Awareness Week provides information about responsible drinking

Sarah Morton

Counseling Services and BACCHUS sponsored Alcohol Awareness Week last week from Nov. 8 to Nov. 11. The program aimed to inform students about responsible drinking, the consequences of alcohol abuse, and ways to have a good time without alcohol.
BACCHUS kicked off the week with Oksoberfest, an annual party with free food, music and non-alcoholic daiquiris and margaritas. Nationally recognized speaker and comedian Randy Hanson appeared on Nov. 10, presenting “Party Time,” a forthright and amusing program on how to drink responsibly. BACCHUS member Sarah Tochiki remarked, “Randy Hanson was a really good speaker and had a really powerful message about how to stay out of trouble while drinking.” His presentation was also cosponsored by the Residence Life Committee.
Nov. 11 officially marked the annual Day of Awareness, when students and faculty were asked to don black clothing and orange Day of Awareness stickers to increase understanding of the serious consequences of alcohol abuse. Day of Awareness seeks to debunk the myth that college drinking does not have serious consequences by commemorating the 1,700 alcohol-related student deaths that occur nationally each year. Furthermore, 599,000 students suffer injuries while under the influence, 97,000 are victims of sexual assault and 25 percent admit that their drinking causes their academic work to deteriorate.
Alcohol Awareness Week concentrated on drinking behavior at Lawrence as well as nationwide. The weeklong “Field of Flags” display on Main Hall Green visually displayed statistics gleaned through a Southern Illinois University alcohol and drug survey. According to the survey, conducted by SIU’s Core Institute, 42 percent of participants admitted high-risk drinking in the two weeks before they took the survey. Overall, 88 percent of students believe that their fellow Lawrentians drink at least once a week, but this is not true. In fact, four out of five students drink only once a week or less. This misconception that all students drink fuels alcohol abuse. As BACCHUS adviser Paul Valencic notes, “Since perception drives behavior, having the wrong perception of what is ‘expected’ to do perpetuates increased usage.”
However, the survey also revealed that many students drink responsibly. Alcohol Awareness Week also sought to recognize the effects of “secondhand drinking” on the Lawrence student body. The statistics revealed that 37.3 percent of Lawrence students felt that other student’s drinking interferes with their studying, and 15 percent feel unsafe because of on campus drinking habits. 37.1 percent believe that secondhand drinking interferes with their lives in other ways, and 54.4 percent responded that it “generally interferes.”
The most successful event of Alcohol Awareness Week was the Friday night “Hidden, Secret, and Cool Places on Campus” tour that took students into the largely unknown tunnels between the Wriston Art Center and the Union, the Computer Science House attic, the chapel organ pipes, the Ormsby attic and the Main Hall cupola. The event, which aimed to provide an alcohol-free alternative to the typical Friday-night partying, drew 110 students. BACCHUS member Schuyler Gardner remarked that “The tour was the most successful event of the week, and we hope to have another sometime later in the year.