Alcohol Awareness event stirs up discussion at Whitworth

Whitworth resident assistants hosted the annual Alcohol Awareness event in front of McMillan Hall on Thursday, Sept. 22. The tailgate party provided students with free hot dogs, volleyball games, root beer and water pong while they informed students about the risks of drinking. Four keynote speakers were present to talk about their own experiences with alcohol: seniors Michael Taylor, Annaliese Slater and Daniel Gubitz and communication professor Jim McPherson. Slater, a transfer student, spoke about getting arrested for a DUI. The night marked exactly one year to the date from when it happened.

“For me, it’s about redeeming the experience and letting Christ have the glory for the change he has been able to affect in my life,” Slater said. “Healing comes when things are in the light and not in darkness.”

In a 2010 study done by the UCLA Higher Education Research Institute, 38.4 percent of college freshman drink beer. While this figure appears to have decreased since the 1980s, the number of alcohol-related deaths in college students is going up, according to a 2009 study in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

“I think alcohol is a dangerous path to start on,” Slater said. “If you’re gonna drink, drink responsibly and never drive.”

A 2008 Core Alcohol and Drug Survey done by the Core Institute conveyed that the majority of college student drinkers did not resort to violence, damage to property or driving after drinking.

However, Slater pointed out, that a warning sign for alcohol abuse is using it to fill an emotional void or to release tension.

“When it becomes a coping mechanism for stress in your life, you know you’re in trouble,” Slater said.

Slater said that she started abusing alcohol because of various tensions in her life, including moral and spiritual issues.

Sophomore Lily Thomas, who attended the event, thought that it was a good way for students to be fully aware about alcohol.

“It’s good to be aware of every aspect [of alcohol], not just the negative side,” Thomas said.

As a supplement to the awareness event going on in front of McMillan and Ballard, Arend Hall held a Prime Time that night that aimed for discussion about alcohol and alcohol-related issues. One discussion that came up was the pros and cons of having a dry campus. The general consensus was an appreciation of not having to deal with intoxicated students, said senior Annie Merriman, resident assistant in Arend Hall who was hosting the discussion.

“I personally approve of the event because it shows you can have a good time without alcohol and it starts a conversation.” Merriman said.

One aspect of the conversation Merriman said she found interesting was to gain different perspectives from those both under and over 21 years of age.

Slater stressed in her speech in front of McMillan that being 21 does not mean a person is invincible. She was over 21 at the time she was arrested while coming home from a friend’s birthday party. One of the hardest things she said she has had to deal with after the fact was learning to forgive herself.

“You lose friends when you start drinking, you lose friends when you stop drinking, you lose respect from others while drinking and you lose respect for yourself,” Slater said.

There is a hope at the end, Slater said. For her, learning to depend on Christ was key to learning forgiveness and accepting her past. Each person has a choice to decide where he or she stands on alcohol, Slater said.

Gubitz emphasized the responsible aspect of drinking in his speech.

“Drinking is not a sin, it’s how you use it or abuse it,” Gubitz said.

 

By Heather Kennison

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