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UW-Eau Claire Plans Activities to Observe National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week

RELEASED: Sept. 23, 2005

National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week posterEAU CLAIRE — Faculty, staff and students at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will once again participate in OctSOBERfest in observance of National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week Oct. 2-8. A wide variety of activities will focus on the dangers associated with alcohol and remind students of the many ways to have fun without alcohol.

"We look forward to bringing new events to this year's observance to keep things fresh," said Nina Albanese-Kotar, a psychologist in UW-Eau Claire's Counseling Services and director of the newly created Center for Alcohol Studies and Education. "This is really a collaborative effort, with many sponsors and students involved, and it represents UW-Eau Claire's commitment to reducing underage and excessive drinking issues on campus."

OctSOBERfest activities will begin at noon Sunday, Oct. 2, with specials on bowling and billiards in Hilltop Center on upper campus. The climbing wall in McPhee also will be open from 6:30-10:30 p.m. beginning Sunday and continuing through Thursday, Oct. 6.

"A Day to Remember" will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 3, with students sharing information with other students about alcohol-related deaths and accidents. On that day, student volunteers will wear T-shirts and place crosses on the Central Campus Mall representing people who died in Wisconsin in alcohol-related deaths last year. Throughout the day, students will read statements during their classes about problems associated with alcohol abuse.

From 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., students, faculty and staff are invited to share a name or a story about someone who either died in an alcohol-related incident or whose life has been impacted by alcohol use in an "Open Mic" session on the Central Campus Mall.

From 6 to 8 p.m. in Schofield Auditorium, there will be showing of the video "Smashed," followed by a presentation by Luke Smith, who is performing community service following his involvement in an AODA accident. Another "Open Mic" session will follow.

"Like last year, Monday will be a serious day," said Albanese-Kotar, who warns that the video presentation of "Smashed" is intense and disturbing.

"Counselors will be available to speak with any students who feel the need following the presentation," she said.

On Tuesday, Oct. 4, there will be a membership drive for a university chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on the Central Campus Mall. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the east lobby of Davies Center, students can try out a Drunk Driving Simulator, which simulates the experience of driving while impaired. The virtual experience, which is sponsored by local distributors, ends in a "crash."

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, literature from Counseling Services, the Center for Awareness of Sexual Assault, and Alcoholics Anonymous will be provided at an information table in the East Lobby of Davies Center. Peer Counselors will be on hand to answer questions and refer people to services.

A new activity planned for Tuesday is a brown bag book discussion group, which will take place from noon to 1 p.m. in the Clearwater Room of Davies Center. Participants will discuss "Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood," by Koren Zailckas. Several copies of the book are still available at the McIntyre Library circulation desk (students must show a Blugold card and request call number HV 5293.Z35 A3 2005) or in the Student Development and Diversity Office, Schofield 240. The book discussion group will be repeated in the same location from noon to 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7.

From 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, UW-Eau Claire's Student Wellness Advocacy Team (SWATeam) will staff an information booth in the Hilltop Riverview Café. The Eau Claire City County Health Department also will provide Reality Check 21 materials. Tuesday night has been designated as Steak Night at the café.

Wednesday, Oct. 5, will begin with "Jail & Bail," an activity introduced at last year's OctSOBERfest. Between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. University Police officers will "arrest" a number of faculty, staff, students and administrators. Those arrested will be asked to complete a sobriety test as if they were being arrested for drunken driving. Officers will talk to those observers in the area of the "arrest," providing information about the consequences of driving drunk. Those arrested must then raise bail to get out of jail. The money will go to the SWATeam to support alcohol education efforts on campus.

Also on Wednesday, a Jazz at Night concert is planned for 8 p.m. in The Cabin of Davies Center, and Jazzman's Café will be open from 7:30 to 9 p.m. so students can enjoy a coffeehouse atmosphere on campus. Jazzman's will also be open from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 6-8.

On Thursday, Oct. 6, the Higherground on upper campus will host the "Virgin Bourbon Street & Casino Night" from 8 to 11 p.m. All the residence halls will compete in a contest for the best alcohol-free cocktail. There will be a casino, dancing, prizes and other activities throughout the event. Wristbands for Hurricane Katrina relief will be on sale.

Michael Blair, former lead singer of the Michigan aggressive acoustic band Madison Greene, will present free concerts in The Cabin of Davies Center at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 6-8. Blair, a native of Detroit, said his songwriting is predominantly influenced by American folk music and he describes his sound as "politically charged non-religious church music."

On Saturday morning, students, faculty, staff and community members are invited to participate in the Michael Noll Memorial 5K Run, sponsored by the family of Michael Noll, a UW-Eau Claire student who died in 2002. Registration will begin at 9 a.m. at the Haas Fine Arts Center green space and the run will start at 10 a.m. There is a $15 entry fee; participants will receive a T-shirt and water bottle. Registration forms are available on-line at www.uwec.edu/sdd/Binder1.pdf. Teams are encouraged and prizes will be awarded for teams that raise the most money. Money raised will support alcohol education activities of the Center for Alcohol Studies and Education.

Among the OctSOBERfest sponsors are UW-Eau Claire's Activities and Programs office, Housing and Residence Life, University Recreation, the SWATeam, National Residence Hall Honorary, Residence Hall Activities Board, United Hall Council, University Police, Student Athlete Advisory Committee, University Dining Services, Counseling Services, Student Development and Diversity, and the Center for Alcohol Studies and Education. Off-campus sponsors include M&L Brands, Dr. Ralph Hudson and the family of Michael Noll.

"This week is not about telling students that alcohol is bad," said sophomore Megan Vidmar, a student with the SWATeam. "It's about remembering those who have been negatively affected by poor decisions and encouraging students to make healthy choices."

Freshman Ashley Borman, also with the SWATeam, agreed.

"I'm sure that everyone on this campus knows someone who has been affected by alcohol abuse," said Borman. "This week offers a time to remember these people. I am very excited to be taking an active role in this weeklong event."

For details about National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week activities at UW-Eau Claire, contact Albanese-Kotar at (715) 836-5521 or albanen@uwec.edu, or Melodee Hoffner at (715) 836-5111 or hoffnema@uwec.edu.

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