CHAMPAIGN — Local police, community organizations and student volunteers are doing their best to teach university students about the dangers of alcohol abuse in advance of Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day on March 1.
About 30 student volunteers spent Monday afternoon at the Office of the Dean of Students stuffing 2,900 bags with brochures, letters and other literature promoting safety, alcohol abuse prevention and other information.
Another 175 volunteers are scheduled to walk up and down campus streets on Wednesday afternoon, knocking on 2,900 apartment and other residential doors in an area bounded by Green Street, Fourth Street, Gregory Drive and Locust Street and distributing the literature to the people who live there.
The effort is part of “Walk as One,” a cooperative effort between the Champaign Community Coalition, Champaign and UI police, the Office of the Dean of Students, Fraternity and Sorority Affairs, the Alcohol and Other Drug Office and the Illinois Liquor Control Commission.
Champaign police Lt. Jim Clark said the purpose of “Walk as One” is to teach students about the dangers of alcohol abuse in advance of Unofficial.
“The brochures include information on alcohol safety, city ordinances we’ll be enforcing on Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day, balcony safety, alcohol poisoning and other useful information,” Clark said. “The purpose is to distribute information to reduce binge drinking, the number of injuries and the number of people transported to the hospital on Unofficial.”
Clark said the effort is intended to reach people who may not be reached by the traditional media.
“We have put out a lot of this stuff before in press releases, but some of the students probably don’t follow the mainstream media and aren’t reading the newspaper day in and day out,” he said. “This is another way to get this information to them.”
Clark said he isn’t sure how much money was spent overall on the packets. He said the Champaign Police Department contributed about $400, the Illini Union Bookstore donated the plastic bags and many of the participating organizations contributed the brochures.
Associate Dean of Students Domonic Cobb said he worked with the Alpha Psi Omega, a service fraternity on campus, to recruit volunteers to stuff the bags on Monday and with the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs to find volunteers to distribute them on Wednesday.
He said other volunteers include police officers, university staff members and other university students.
Bridget Ouderkirk of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., was among the students stuffing the plastic bags with literature on Monday.
“At this university there are huge drinking problems, especially on Unofficial,” she said. “I don’t think people are aware of the medical signs of alcohol poisoning and what they are doing to themselves.”
Matt Harris of St. Charles, Ill., said he didn’t partake in alcohol at last year’s Unofficial.
“There’s some really good information in the pamphlets,” he said.
Clark said he isn’t sure how to measure whether “Walk as One” will have been effective, but he said the effort will have been worth it if even one student decides against overindulging in alcohol as a result of the information being provided this week.
“Do we have any way of measuring whether handing this stuff out will make a difference at Unofficial? We don’t,” Clark said. “We just want to keep students safe.”