Alcohol awareness stirs up at UAA

Many college students enjoy a good party or a night out on the town with friends. It is a time in our lives that we want to spend with our friends and have some fun. But for some people, the fun can get a little out of hand, especially when alcohol is involved.

This is what the idea behind the National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week is, to help raise awareness to college students about the risks of taking fun a little too far.

“The focus of NCAAW is to reinforce personal responsibility, highlight healthy lifestyles free from the abuse or illegal use of alcohol and to combat negative stereotypes (perceived norms) of college drinking behavior,” Lexi Prunella said, Alcohol, Drug and Wellness Educator in the Dean of Students Office.

To get students interested in the responsibilities and dangers of drinking, many activities were hosted throughout the week some with fun twists on alcohol such as ‘mocktails,’ while others had a more dire effect such as the depictive images of cars smashed to pieces from drunk drivers.

“We’re trying to target all age groups, through various types of activities, in order to meet the different interests among the different age groups,” Prunella said.

Drinking and football go hand in hand, and is almost a tradition for some people, especially those that go to sports bars with their friends. The Den served up some root beer and beer nuts during Monday Night Football, to simulate the fad of consuming alcohol during this big event.

Various students gathered in the Den again on Tuesday evening to watch ‘The Hangover’ laughing at the various points of stupidity resulting from a drinking binge gone bad. The movie was meant to be a wakeup call that even though it may be humorous to see it on the big screen, it isn’t so funny when it happens to you in real life.

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Not everyone truly understands the consequences of alcohol until after it happens, and it can really alter a person’s life when it does, so precautions definitely need to be taken.
The Virgin Bourbon Street Festival was hosted on Wednesday in the Student Union as a fun New Orleans-style celebration. A variety of booths hosted by various students and faculty were set up to meander through and take a look at different aspects of alcohol awareness.

“We want to engage students, provide them with relevant knowledge and skills, and empower them to take care of their own wellness as well as lookout for their peers.” Prunella said.

One of the booths was set up with several cups, mugs and margarita glasses filled with M&M candies.

According to one of the signs set up, each M&M has about 4.5 calories; so multiply that by the number of M&M’s in each cup to find out how many calories an alcoholic beverage would have.

One beer pint had about 36 M&Ms, around 162 calories.

Margaritas had 151 M&M’s, which is about 679 calories per drink.

One 6-pack had over 177 M&Ms, or 796 calories.

The more you drink, the more calories you consume, and even though most people will just throw half of it up anyways, it still can pack on the pounds if you drink frequently enough.

Senior Hanna Johnson was manning the ‘mocktail’ stand, whipping up various non-alcoholic twists on alcoholic drinks for students to enjoy such as Safe Sex on the Beach, Seawolf Sunset and Mock Champagne.

“I definitely think that doing events like this brings awareness to campus,” Johnson said. People of all ages were walking around with ‘mocktails’; even a 5 year old was spotted sipping on a Southcentral Comfort.

Students Stephanie Hsu, Claudia Hidrogo and Sarai Etheridge grabbed a few cups of hard lemonade before making their way to the mask-decorating table. At first they were confused as to why it was called hard lemonade, but after trying it, they realized they were so cleverly named due to being Jell-O shots.

“I didn’t get the concept until after I tried it. It’s a pretty cool idea,” Hsu said after trying one.

Betty Bang from the Student Health and Counseling Center was a few booths over taking suggestions from students to write on a whiteboard of the best ways to cure a hangover. Several responses included tomato juice, Spaghetti-O’s with toast and two Advil, Red Bull, bloody mary, a slap in the face and a cold shower.

“While some of these are healthy for you, others not so much. None of them will really work,” Bang said to students glancing at the board.

Not all of the booths were so much fun. An officer from the Anchorage Police Department had a booth with some detailed images of cars that were smashed up due to drunk driving. Along the wall behind her was a board full of confiscated materials such as pipes, bongs and bags of powder and other materials to represent drugs.

The officer commented that a lot of the times the crashes resulting from alcohol have drugs involved as well.

Even though UAA prohibits the use of drugs, and has strict regulations on the consumption of alcohol, there are still the few who go overboard and end up giving a bad reputation for college students as constant partiers, even if the majority doesn’t drink at all.

Events like NCAAW are just one small step towards educating and alleviating that negative reputation and help gain a better name for our school.

Prunella is hoping to send a very specific message out to college students regarding these drug and alcohol issues.

“This alcohol awareness week is one step UAA is taking to help shift the current norms surrounding college drinking and influence a change in attitudes and behaviors surrounding substance use among young adults.”