For more than a decade, OSU Institute of Technology has hosted events on campus coinciding with Alcohol Awareness Week, a national initiative that aims to educate and raise awareness of the consequences of substance abuse among college students.
“We call it Alcohol Awareness Week, but it’s really about drugs and alcohol awareness,” said Student Life Director Bruce Force. “For us, it’s all about educating students about alcohol and drugs and how addictive these substances can be. Learn from others’ mistakes and not your own.”
This year, OSUIT will offer three programs for students, staff and the public to attend during Alcohol Awareness Week, which is Oct. 19 through 25.
The newest program is the Austin Box Story. Austin Box was a starting linebacker for the University of Oklahoma football team before he died in May 2011 from an accidental prescription drug overdose at the age of 22.
His mother, Gail Box, will tell his story of how multiple football injuries led to an addiction to pain medications, and that he suffered silently, never telling his family what he was going through.
The Austin Box Story will be presented Wednesday Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. in the Covelle Hall Auditorium and the public is welcome to attend.
On Tuesday Oct. 21 at 1 p.m. in the PSO Lounge in the Student Union, the Honorable Cynthia Pickering, Special Judge of the District Court of Okmulgee County, will once again make an appearance for Here Comes the Judge, a presentation and Q&A session about the consequences of an impaired driving arrest, which includes charges of driving under the influence, DUI, or driving while intoxicated, DWI.
“Judge Pickering will talk about everything from a bare-bones DUI arrest all the way to a manslaughter charge if someone dies as a result of a drunk driver. She talks about jail time and all that goes with it,” Force said. “She’s a tough lady and she doesn’t mince words.”
A three-person Victims Impact Panel is scheduled for Wednesday Oct. 22 at noon in the Covelle Hall Auditorium. Each panelist will present their story of how alcohol and drug abuse affected their life or the life of a family member.
“They are great speakers and very passionate about spreading the word. It’s very thought provoking and very powerful,” he said.
In 2012, more than 10,300 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, a third of all traffic fatalities in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Young people are at the greatest risk, according to the CDC. One out of every three drivers with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or higher involved in a fatal crash in 2012 was between 21 and 24 years of age. The next highest age groups were 25 to 34 year olds at 27 percent, and 35 to 44 year olds at 24 percent.
These events on the OSUIT campus are all about making sure students don’t become statistics, Force said. And even if no one is hurt there are still consequences to abusing drugs and alcohol, or supplying those substances to minors, including felony charges and jail time, being expelled from sponsored programs on campus or being fired from paid internships or jobs.
“It’s all about education. We don’t want to beat them over the head with ‘don’t do this, don’t do that’ because, frankly, they’ve heard about the dangers for years,” he said. “We do this from the perspective of education and decision making. This is what can happen if you make certain choices.”