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The Blue & Gray Press | August 19, 2019

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Staff Ed: Homecoming Weekends reminds students dangers of drinking and driving

Staff Ed: Homecoming Weekends reminds students dangers of drinking and driving


Homecoming weekend filled the air with excitement this past weekend at the University of Mary Washington. Tailgating, bonfires, barbeques and sporting events were at the center of it all, providing an engaging atmosphere for students, faculty and alumni alike.

While the planned activities provided students with a chance to de-stress after an academic week, it is important to address the safety concerns that become apparent during such social gatherings.

A tragic story made headlines this past Saturday when Adacia Chambers drove into a crowd of people at Oklahoma State University’s homecoming parade, killing four attendees. It is easy to distance ourselves from such events, to say that such things could not happen on our campus, but we need to be better than that. We as members of the community need to drink safely, and responsibly. More importantly, we need to keep an eye out for those around us whose judgment might be clouded after an afternoon of heavy drinking.

Operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of .01 to .07 can be just as deadly as driving over the legal limit. This is a phenomenon known as “buzzed driving”. According the Ad Council, 10,322 people were killed on roadways due to impaired driving in 2012, an average of one drunk-driving fatality occurring every 51 minutes. Even one alcoholic beverage can be the difference between getting home safe, and a horrific accident

Perhaps the most memorable casualty of teen alcohol abuse in recent years was in the case of Colorado State University Student, Sam Spady, who was found dead in a fraternity house during Labor Day weekend of 2004. Spady was a sophomore, whose life ended tragically at the age of 19 from “binge drinking”, which is defined as consuming five or more drinks within a two hour period. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 48 percent of all college-aged kids engaged in binge drinking each year, and as a result, 1,400 student deaths occurred from overconsumption. Autopsy results showed that her blood alcohol content was at 0.436 percent.

Sam might have survived if she had gotten proper medical attention at the time of the incident instead of being allowed to fall asleep while suffering from severe alcohol poisoning. Here at UMW, we strive to create a community of honor, inside and outside of the classroom. We are reminded time and time again to honor our academic institution, to honor the trust between students and faculty, but above all, to be true to ourselves.

We must honor our bodies and our well-being first and foremost and make sound decisions for ourselves regarding our consumption of alcohol. Honor yourself and your community by making smarter choices, to not operate a vehicle when you are impaired, to watch over your peers so they aren’t taken advantage of while under the influence and stand up for a fellow Eagle. Your diligence will make the difference. Be the friend that Sam needed that night.