Alcohol Awareness Week fights drunk driving

There are 1,825 red flags placed on the lawn outside of Stevenson-Darwin quad. Each flag represents a student who has died as a result of drunk driving. 

The red flags, as well as a destroyed car, are a part of Save a Seawolf alcohol awareness week. Each year 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol related injuries, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. 

Drinking and driving is not the only danger that accompanies excessive drinking. Save A Seawolf week aims to educate students on all of the dangers of drinking, such as physical and sexual assault. 

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states approximately 696,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking, and about 97,000 report experiencing alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape. 

For Sonoma State University students, the displays serve as a reminder of the dangers of alcohol. 

“I think the amount of red flags really shows how many lives are taken and how many people get affected by drinking and driving,” said senior communications major Amy Ellsworth. 

When Ellsworth was in high school she participated in Every 15 Minutes, a program designed to bring awareness to the dangers of drinking and driving to high school students.

“After participating in the program, I became even more serious. It was a life changing experience,” Ellsworth said.

Ellsworth feels Save a Seawolf week, especially the display of flags, is a great way to promote awareness and educate students. 

“It makes students really think about the devastation and impact when choosing to get behind the wheel after drinking,” said Ellsworth.

Karl Mortenson, a police officer at Sonoma State, echoed the statement. “Anything that can bring attention to alcohol abuse is a good idea. Young people often think that they are invincible andalcohol related incidents will not happen to them.” he said.

Mo Phillips, director of programming for campus life, is in charge of alcohol awareness week. She sees the week as a great way to get students thinking.

“The idea is for students to think about their drinking, to make changes they see fit, to be aware of those around them…of their friends, or even of people they do not necessarily know,” Phillips said.

Save a Seawolf Week is part of the National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week, a national program designed to educate students on the issues related to alcohol use. 

“The national week is usually the third week of October, but we decided a few years ago that we wanted it to be the week just prior to Halloween since Halloween is a time that many college students will overindulge to celebrate,” Phillips said. 

Save a Seawolf Fair, which took place on Wednesday, allowed students to participate in activities such as soccer, basketball and Mario Kart while wearing ‘beer goggles.’ 

“Having the wrecked car display out in the main quad is a great eye catcher that displays the possible consequences of a DUI related accident,” Mortenson said. 

Additionally, a demonstration was given on how to responsibly pour alcohol, as well as tips on how to intervene if someone is trying to drink and drive.

“It is hard to walk by either display without wanting to know what they are about, and without reading the story boards and lawn signs,” Phillips said.

Students can also participate in a drinking distracted driving seminar taking place on Nov. 9 in the Rec Center lobby from 1-7 p.m.

“There is so much we want people to think about. Mostly we want people to think about the safety of themselves and others. To be bold and take a risk if someone they know is in trouble and to call for help rather than thinking of things like getting in trouble. If you are that concerned make a call for help,” Phillips said.

If you are unsure if you or a friend needs help, call 9-1-1 immediately. For more tips on how to spot alcohol poisoning and how to stay safe while drinking, visit the police services page at https://www.sonoma.edu/ps/police/.