By Melissa Curtis
For The Maine Campus
Going a full week without drinking is a tough chore for some college students, but some rose to the challenge this past week as part of the Alcohol Awareness Week.
Saturday, Oct. 27, marked the end of the week and the conclusion of the voluntary prohibition at University of Maine. Sponsored by the Center for Students and Community Life, the week’s events ranged from dancing lessons to forums to discussing alcohol-related issues.
Greek Peer Educators sponsored the “Drink-Out,” asking students, faculty and staff to sign-up and take the pledge to abstain from drinking alcohol for the remainder of the week.
At 12 p.m. each day, the Center for Students and Community Life brought in a different group to talk about what role they play on campus. These included the Safe Campus Project, Public Safety, Judicial Affairs, the Counseling Center and a panel of students.
On Tuesday, in a forum entitled “Alcohol, You, and the Law,” Alan Stormann Sr., a lieutenant of UMaine Public Safety and Chris Gardner, a detective also of Public Safety, spoke about recent changes in alcohol-related laws.
“We treat alcohol a lot different than we used to,” Stormann said.
“You see people being a lot more concerned and aware of dangers,” Gardner said.
As of Sept. 19, 2001, possession of alcohol by a minor is punishable by a fine of $200 to $2000 or up to one year in prison.
Additionally, a minor does not need to have any alcohol on his or her person to be issued a summons. Intoxication is enough evidence for a summons.
“Our officers aren’t out there to see how many summons they can write in a night, they are truly concerned for students,” Gardner said.
On Thursday at noon, David Fiacco, director of Judicial Affairs, spoke. Fiacco said Judicial Affairs functions differently than a regular court system.
“Nationally, 94 percent of all disciplinary incidents are alcohol or drug-related incidents,” Fiacco said.
Fiacco also addressed the issue of parental notification in the case of an alcohol-related crime.
Currently, Judicial Affairs has the right to contact parents whenever students are referred to its office, but usually only contacts them when a student repeatedly violates alcohol and drug codes or when he or she is severely sanctioned.
“Parental notification is very effective,” Fiacco said. “We rarely see those students again.”
Starting in the Fall of 2002, Judicial Affairs will actively engage in a parental notification policy.
In addition to the alcohol education program, students were treated to an array of entertaining events to offer alternatives to drinking.
Throughout the week in Memorial Union, there were line dancing and hip-hop dancing lessons. Swing dance lessons were taught on Wednesday night by the Back Door Dance Studio.
The Greek Peer Educators had a large turn-out with more than 65 people signing up for their Drink-Out on Friday alone.
Part of the event included alcohol-free Rotational Parties at Chi Omega, Phi Kappa Sigma, Lambda Chi and Pi Beta Phi Thursday night.
Three of the students who signed up for the Drink-Out were Sigma Phi Epsilon brothers Colin Atwood, Ian Muir and Josh Higgins.
“I think it’s important to raise awareness about alcohol in the Greek system. Many people only see that we drink, but Greeks do more community service than many other organizations on campus.” Muir said.
“Giving up alcohol is no big thing. If it is, then maybe something is wrong,” Atwood said.
Muir admitted he entered a few situations last week where he normally would have drank, but managed to abstain.
“I think some people get so stuck on the habit of drinking to become social, that they feel almost out of place when they do go to things not intoxicated,” Atwood said. “Alcohol can be wicked fun, but in excess, it can be very dangerous and really stupid.”