Social and Cultural committee kicks off Alcohol Awareness Week

The Student Government Association General Assembly passed a $57 extension to the Alcohol Awareness Week budget Thursday.

The original budget, which allotted $250, could not cover expenses for the purchase of hotdogs, buns, advertisements, a slushy machine rental and a grill according the Resolution 1617. M.

“It was a little bit difficult for me not to go over just to feed people for one day on the quad,” Assistant Vice President of Social and Cultural Issues Christina Lutes said.

The Social and Cultural Issues committee partnered with sorority Delta Zeta, fraternity Phi Delta Theta, and the Activities Programming Board to raise awareness for the dangers of using and abusing alcohol.

“I think alcohol in moderation is OK for college students, but when you put others in danger I think that then it definitely needs to be addressed,” she said.

Lutes said her committee’s goal is to try to put a positive spin on issues that may be difficult for people to handle.

She said she reached out to Vanderburgh County officers like Sheriff Dave Wedding and Deputy Brian Spradlin to talk about their experience with alcohol accidents and give students a taste of what it’s like to be under the influence with a field sobriety test.

“I think some students would be surprised that some incidents do happen in the morning, when people think that they are sober,” Lutes said.

She recalled her own experiences with alcohol as a reason why Alcohol Awareness Week is important to her.

“I grew up around IU and my dad actually owned apartments on campus at IU, right across from the football stadium,” she said. “Coming here is a lot safer. Girls don’t just drunkenly walk around campus and get stolen, which happens all the time at IU.”

Lutes believes that alcohol is not as big of a problem on campus as it is at the University of Indiana, but said it is still something that needs to be addressed.

“I gave a flier to one of my past teachers and she said that students come to her classroom drunk in the mornings and in the afternoon and that hit me hard,” she said. “I was like, ‘Oh my goodness I had no idea.’”

The speaker at Tuesday’s event, Charles Brown, was the father of Evansville teen Logan Brown, who was killed by a drunk driver in 2014.

He spoke about his experiences with alcohol and drunk driving and how he uses those experiences to motivate change in the community.

“We had the initial shock factor that really made an instant change within the community, but once the shock went away, it kind of has been a slow process within our lawmakers and within legislation,” he said.

Brown said the process of reducing drunk driving incidents can be boiled down to four parts; community, law enforcement, judicial system, and legislatures.

“We still treat it (drunk driving) as an action instead of a choice and until we get to a point where we are treating a death caused by a drunk driver as a choice, as no different than a guy picking up a gun and shooting somebody, then it’s tough to make it,” he said.

Involuntary manslaughter while driving under the influence of alcohol in the state of Indiana is only a class 5 or class 4 felony depending on prior history, while in other states like Kentucky, it is classified as first degree murder.

“I think we have a long way to go, but we are starting to see some progress. I think that there’s also an opportunity to do a better job enforcing the laws.

Brown believes awareness is key to changing the perception of drinking and driving in Evansville and society.

“The awareness is instrumental to the whole entire change. We always understood that drinking and driving was bad, but we never totally evaluated the whole entire outcome,” he said. “It’s a community effort. We have seen some good things coming and we do see change, but we also realize that we have a long way to go.”