Originally posted on the-standard.org on Oct. 25, 2016. Photo by Ryan Welch.
On Wednesday, the Taylor Health and Wellness Center sponsored an alcohol safety event that allowed students to participate in two simulations, one of which was similar to driving drunk.
Students strapped on goggles exhibiting different blood alcohol levels and test drove a golf cart through a course marked in fluorescent cones. Afterward, they chose from a separate set of goggles for “walking the line.” Some even fell over or wobbled before taking their first step.
Cpl. David Kenyon and Officer Mark Stewart from the Missouri State Substation led the event. They started off instructing students on what to do if they encountered an officer while intoxicated and how to responsibly consume alcohol.
“If you’re walking around with open containers, acting foolish, we’re most likely handing you that ticket,” Kenyon said.
Afterward, they ran the two simulations in Lot 28. Those who drove could pick from goggles that ranged .12 b.a.c. to .15 b.a.c. or goggles that started at .17 b.a.c. For “walk the line,” a sobriety test that includes walking in a straight line, arms down to the side, goggles ranged from .07 to .10 or goggles .25 and above. More than a couple students ran over the cones or fell over during the sobriety test.
Wellness Educator for the Taylor Health and Wellness Center Jerilyn Reed and junior economics major Chase Jackson collaborated to make the event happen. Jackson and Reed said it focused on educating current students about alcohol impairment and how to act responsibly should they choose to drink.
“We wanted to make sure students were aware of how to use alcohol properly and the laws of alcohol, which is why we had our substation officers out,” Reed said. “We also wanted to make sure that students were aware of impaired driving and how that can impact an individual. We really want to make sure that we focus on that if people are having any drinks that they are drinking responsibly and if they are going to be in a car, that they are going to use a designated driver.”
During and after the event, multiple students asked the officers questions about their jobs and the use of alcohol. Based off their reactions to the officers’ information, Jackson said attendees probably walked away with a higher level of understanding.
“I think the students had a lot of their questions answered by the officers who came to speak for us; they probably gained a lot of insight on how the police tend to deal with situations involving students and alcohol and how they should behave in order to avoid unnecessary punishments,” Jackson said. “As for the golf cart, I can only hope that as the students were running over cones, they realized how dangerous drinking and driving can be and what consequences could come of it.”
One of the 80 attendees, sophomore psychology major Alexis West drove the golf cart as well as walked the line, and she said she didn’t realize how much of a challenge it would be.
“I didn’t know a person’s vision could get that messed up because I was seeing double of everything, and I did have one of the stronger glasses, but I guess that does make sense,” West said. “Even when I was trying to control the wheel, I couldn’t tell how far left and how far right I was turning and I hit so many cones.”
After working for the downtown substation for the past three years, Stewart said he thought the event was necessary because it acknowledged underage drinking while instilling the importance of making safe decisions.
“A lot of the stuff downtown is for your over-21 crowd and then you have your few minors, but here on campus you have a lot more underage drinking than you do downtown,” Stewart said. “I think it’s important to know they are going to experiment, but give them the knowledge so they can be safe.”