Wilkes University BACCHUS holds alcohol awareness walk

More than 500 students gathered in the campus Greenway last Tuesday to walk a mile in unison.

The students were walking for alcohol awareness as part of National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week, which takes place the third week of October every year.

National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week is a week during which colleges around the country partake in raising awareness about the dangers of alcohol abuse, specifically binge drinking and potential negative decisions that could be related, such as drunk driving, as these are aspects of alcohol consumption that typically affect college students directly.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, about 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes.

This is just one potential danger that Alcohol Awareness Week seeks to make students aware of.

“Everyone we know has been affected or knows someone affected by the consequences of alcohol abuse,” said BACCHUS president Lara McQue. BACCHUS organized this walk and is a student-run club dedicated to health and wellness of fellow students.

The goal of the walk is not only to bring awareness to alcohol abuse, but also to provide support to those struggling with alcohol addiction, McQue explained.

“It’s like (we’re saying) look, these are 500 people that you can go that want to help and support you,” she said.

The walk began in the campus Greenway, where Wilkes’ radio station, WCLH, set the mood with upbeat music. Students participating picked up their matching T-shirts, and a sign over a walkway adjacent to the library read “Be part of the solution.”

Campus Public Safety and Wilkes-Barre City Police also aided in the event as they helped the students cross busy streets and directed traffic accordingly.

Club advisor Gail Holby has been doing this walk for a number of years and said it can help educate students of underage and excessive drinking.

“We’re trying to stop the negative stereotypes of college drinking behaviors by educating students that most of their peers don’t abuse alcohol and that most of their peers make safe, healthy choices,” Holby said.

Along with the walk, the university also provided a drunk driving simulation, which was held by The Lehigh Valley Health Network and the Highway Safety Commission last Wednesday to provide students with the experience of what it is like to drive under the influence of alcohol and raise awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving.

Studies by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that one of the most beneficial solutions to irresponsible college drinking is promoting awareness, which is specifically what these programs aim to do.