Students take to streets to raise alcohol abuse awareness

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“[About] 1700 students die each year in alcohol-related incidents – one death is too many,” said Sonjia Slaffey, member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority and senior in sociology. “In this day and age, every one of those deaths is preventable.”

Delta Sigma Theta hosted a memorial walk last night in remembrance of those who have died while driving drunk or at the hands of a drunk driver.

“We hope that people are impacted by our message and think before they drink and drive or see someone about to get in their car after drinking,” said Deborah Muhwezi, president of Delta Sigma Theta and senior in mass communications. “We want everyone to be able to live their lives and experience things and not have their lives cut short.”

The walk was held as the finale to a month of events sponsored by Delta Sigma Theta for Sober In October month, which was begun to raise awareness about alcohol abuse, especially among college students, said Muhwezi.

“The word ‘sober’ kind of has two meanings for this walk, not just sobriety but the seriousness of the issue. We have had a lot of more light-hearted events, such as the drunk obstacle course or ‘ask a cop,’ but this is a chance to really take a moment and remember how this affects everyone,” said LaBarbara Wigfall, faculty adviser for Delta Sigma Theta.

Wigfall said she was happy to see so many groups participate this year because drunk driving doesn’t discriminate.

The walk began in the R parking lot across from Moore Hall and weaved through the streets of campus before ending at the K-State Student Union.

Gernae Roland, member of Delta Sigma Theta and senior in psychology, said this was the first year the walkers had a police escort and took to the streets rather than going through campus. Rolund added that the walk was a symbolic movement against drunk driving, and the goal of walking the streets was to gain more awareness on campus.

Several people sang hymns throughout the walk, and others carried signs as the group made their way to the Union. The mood was somber as members of Delta Sigma Theta and several other campus organizations walked the streets lit by the glow of the police escort, an ominous symbol of the possible consequences of driving drunk.

After walking, participants made their way into the Union and watched a presentation led by Delta Sigma Theta members about the danger of binge drinking on college campuses.

“By all means go out and have fun, but you have to know your limit before you even go out,” Slaffey said during the presentation. “Don’t try to compete, and know when to stop.”

Slaffey added that she hoped everyone attending the event would spread the message they received, because they might save a friend’s life or even their own.

The presentation highlighted the story of Gordie Bailey, a student at the University of Colorado who died of intense alcohol poisoning just three weeks into his freshman year. Bailey was left passed out in his fraternity for nine hours before being found unresponsive on a floor and covered in drawings from fellow fraternity members playing a practical joke.

Slaffey stressed that K-State has had a few occasions when someone could have easily ended up like Gordie Bailey, and students need to take responsibility for themselves and friends.

“I thought this whole event was really inspiring, and I’m definitely going to participate next year,” said Erica Geist, member of Delta Delta Delta and sophomore in business.

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