Bobbi Brooks explaining alcohol content
As students are rounding out their final week before spring break, a flurry of midterms, papers, final speeches and presentations rain down on the spirits of those eager to leave Nacogdoches. While some students are choosing to go home and work, and some are taking relaxing, family-oriented vacations, many Lumberjacks will be storming the beaches of top spring break destinations such as South Padre Island, Panama City Beach and Gulf Shore, Ala.
The hours of sleep lost this week will likely be outnumbered by the hours spent daydreaming of the debauchery that will ensue once classes are dismissed – visions of thousands of college students storming the beaches of sandy paradise, armed with coolers and beer bongs floods the minds of many. And with the tactical release of movies like “Project X,” responsibility and cautious decision making are fleeting thoughts.
Like Franklin D. Roosevelt once stated, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Responsible decision making is never a popular topic with young adults, especially on campuses where scare tactics constantly are presented to students on the subjects of sex, drugs and alcohol. But many of these topics are preached from the viewpoint that abstinence is key. Obviously, the presence of sex and alcohol in the lives of college students will only continue to grow, which is why the A-TEAM at SFA has decided to present the matters in a practical way pertaining to spring break.
The A-TEAM, a multi-departmental group that addresses alcohol related issues, along with the Health Science department and Agrilife Extension Services are educating students on the top concerns for spring breakers. The topics discussed were related to party-atmosphere concerns but were presented in a way that was more educational rather than frightening. The presenters made many valid points when addressing spring break, none of which intruded on the student’s ability to have fun and only were presented so that Lumberjacks could protect themselves from the scarier side of spring break.
1. Know your intake
Many students are preached simply about the dangers of drinking alcohol. Alcohol is rarely presented in a positive light, and many college-aged drinkers are unaware of the actual alcoholic content of the drinks they are consuming. Bobbi Brooks, a representative from Agrilife Extension Services explained that it’s always important to regulate total alcoholic content. “When you have a higher alcoholic percentage, like Crown Royal, which contains 40% alcohol, it only takes 1.5 ounces to equal one drink. Eight ounces of beer is equivalent to a drink,” said Bobbi. While students may claim that they have only drank two red Solo cups of punch, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they have had two drinks. A typical glass of punch has well over 1.5 ounces of alcohol in it – add in whatever beer is casually consumed, and however many shots are taken, and BAC, or blood alcohol content, is well over the legal limit (assuming you are 21).
2. Be wary of new friends
Jacee Klovenski, Tomball junior, hosted an information table titled “Stranger Danger” to educate students on the dangers of sexual predators. While most may assume that the spring break hotspots they are traveling to are a safe haven for college students, sexual predators flock to the same areas in search for naive college students. “They say always use the buddy system, but it’s important for women to be educated on rape defense. Dont be afraid to kick, punch or bite,” explained Klovenski. While the idea of fighting off predators probably never crosses the mind of college students, it’s the stories like the tragedy of the Natalie Holloway murder that are a clear reminder that predators do exist. “Anyone can be a predator; those friends that you make are not always who you think they are,” explained Klovenski.
3. A “one night stand” could cost you more than one night
While many movies romanticize the idea of a one night stand with a stranger, there are many things to examine before making that decision. Of course, everyone says they have safe sex, but studies show an alarming statistic that holds true for college students. “One-fourth of all college students carry some type of STD,” explained Kelly Doyle, The Woodlands senior. The health science student hosted a game where she asked students to draw a slip out of a jar – 25% of the slips had the name of a sexually transmitted disease on them. The reaction of students who drew diseases like chlamydia and HPV was humorous, but the idea presented is relevant. “The game is interesting because you don’t know what you’re getting. 80 percent of infected students have no symptoms and so those who engage in unprotected sex are unaware of the risks,” said Doyle.
The actual number of infections each year is even more startling. The Center for Disease Control states that 19 million people are infected with an STD in the US every year – over half are among 15 to 24 year olds.
4. Take a Cab
Regardless if you partied on the beach or not, many vacationers don’t actually realize the alcoholic content that is in their blood stream. Many DUI and DWI offenders claim they never felt intoxicated, and many more claim that they would never drive if they thought they were too drunk. More than 1,500 people are killed each year in the state of Texas alone in alcohol-related crashes. And regardless if you don’t wreck your car while drinking under the influence, the fines that come about after a first time DWI conviction are hefty. While paying $20 for a cab from your hotel to a bar may seem annoying, the fines that could ensue after getting pulled over while driving under the influence heavily outweigh the decision to just call a cab company. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, a DWI on average costs the offender $17,438 in fines and lawyers’ fees, not including the jail time spent and the loss of a driver’s license for up to a year.
5. Keep Close to Friends
After hearing about the dangers of sexual predators, drunk driving, one-night stands and alcoholic intake, it’s most important to realize that everyone needs monitoring. Never let a friend go anywhere alone, and don’t laugh off the drunken stupor that some friends may fall into after a long day of drinking in the sun. While vomiting and passing out is sometimes showcased in entertainment as a hilarious end to a night of partying, the two symptoms are in fact signs of alcohol poisoning. Bobbi Brooks explained that once students are aware of actual symptoms, the avoidance of alcohol-related deaths can be greatly increased.
Hypothermia – low body temperature, clammy skin
Erratic or slow breathing
Loss of consciousness
Pale or blueish skin color
Taking action after seeing a friend experience any symptoms is highly important as well; ignoring a sick friend is a high risk to take once the law comes into play. “This past September the 911 Lifeline law was passed. The first person to call about a friend experiencing symptoms of alcohol poisoning will be immune from alcohol possession related charges if they remain at the scene until EMS shows up,” explained Brooks.
So while it’s not necessary to panic over the dangers of spring break, it is important to head to the chosen destination with precaution in mind. Spring break is meant for relaxing; it’s not necessary to plan a trip void of fun. Encourage those traveling to practice moderation and to think responsibly before acting. One mistake during a college trip could cost a lifetime of regret.
For more information on the effects of binge drinking and alcohol content, visit http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/binge-drinking.htm