The JSU Peer Educators sponsored an “Alcohol Awarness Week” for interested students.
Ninma Sheshi, the project coordinator, set up events for each day of the week, including a golf cart obstacle course students could try maneuvering through while wearing “Fatal Goggles” – a device that simulates the visual acuity and coordination of a person with a blood alcohol level over the legal driving limit.
Encouraging students to “Be Smart” about getting behind the wheel after a few drinks was a common
theme of the events, displays, and free literature that was handed out.
Friday afternoon a pre-Tailgate Party was held on the quad, luring students with scent of grilled hot dogs and rewarding the curious with lunch, literature and lottery prizes. Peer educators and the hungry students shared their negative experiences with alcohol.
One student shared that last week she had gotten three citations: driving under the influence, driving without a license, and driving under the influence while underage.
A couple of the peer educators shared more personal stories. Katie Etheredge said that her mother, a recovering alcoholic who has been sober for four years, has inspired her to not drink. She has made a personal choice to not get drunk; Etheredge has known “mean drunks” and shared, “You may find out the hard way that alcohol may turn your Dr. Jekyll into Mr. Hyde when you least expect it.”
Etheredge also explained that “Be Smart” is not just about drinking and driving. Alcohol can effect medications that someone is on – giving unexpected side effects or causing the medication to not work at all - and even just taking Tylenol while alcohol is in a person’s system can cause liver damage.
Another student, Lakesa Ford, told about her grandfather - a functioning alcoholic who only made it into his mid-fifties before dying from liver failure, caused by the effects of years of heavy drinking.
Ford and Etheredge agree from experience that a person can have fun and be social even if they are the only sober person in the room; however, they’re not trying to recruit abstainers. They just want their fellow students to “Be Smart” by enjoying themselves in safe ways.
One handout in the packet of literature is called Alcohol & Safety Tips. Following tips such as “Alternate alcoholic beverages with water” and “Don’t drink on an empty stomach” can prevent hangovers, vomiting, and even alcohol poisoning, because staying hydrated and having food in the stomach helps the body process alcohol.
Another tip was: “Never leave your drinks unattended or accept an open drink from anyone.” Paranoid advice? Not according to one student’s (who wished to reamin anonymous) story:
“I was seventeen, a freshman in college. It was the beginning of Spring Break, and a couple of friends of mine decided to party in the mostly-empty dorm. Well, at least I thought they were my friends. He was twenty-four. I was shooting down vodka, and tried to cut myself off when I was completely plastered.
But he insisted that I keep drinking, and I was so drunk I didn’t even know any better. I passed out, and woke up to the pain. I fought, but I blacked out again. The worst part was that afterward he pretended nothing had happened, and he was in a class I couldn’t drop. I didn’t report it because I was ashamed. ‘Be Smart’? There is no chance of me being anything close to smart when I’m drunk – something I learned the hard way many times over."