Five more days and then for many students, Panama City Beach, South Padre Island, Cancun, and Jamaica- spring break is here. It’s time to toss the text books in a corner, shed pounds of winter gear, and head south. But despite leaving all your cares and worries behind, there is one thing you should not toss in the corner and forget to pack: safety.
Starting Monday, Feb. 27, University of Maine Peer Education is sponsoring Safe Spring Break Week to raise awareness that having fun over break does not include putting yourself in a dangerous situation. A Safe Spring Break Party will be hosted on Wednesday, March 1 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Totman Lounge of Memorial Union.
“We want to send the message that yes, spring break is supposed to be a relaxed, exciting and fun time for students,” said Angela Fiandaca, Peer Education program graduate assistant. “However, we want the message to also include that having fun in a safer way has its benefits.”
Since before the end of World War II, work and study exhausted students have flocked to destinations like Fort Lauderdale, Fla. to have fun and forget about responsibilities. Today, it is estimated that over 1million students spend their spring break at one of the top 10 popular vacation locations.
Peer Ed is teaming up with ADAPT to provide information about using designated drivers and watching what, how much and who is serving their drinks. Beer Goggles will be available to try on during the party as well.
The Safe Campus Project is providing information on being safe with respect to date rape drugs and the importance of sexual consent from both parties in order for the activity to be acceptable and legal. Peer Ed will provide free condoms, and will address the importance of using dental dams, lube and male and female condoms with any sexual act to prevent the spread of STD and HIV.
“Most [students] have seen the MTV Spring Break video clips from Cancun and other tropical locations where college students party until dawn, drink beyond what they can handle and have unprotected sex or even sex that they regret in the end,” said Fiandaca.
Peer Ed wants to remind students that these activities have consequences and that their vacation does not have to be like it is sometimes shown on MTV, according to Fiandaca.
“Basically we just want people to have a safe and fun spring break, one that they will remember forever and that they will remember for the right reasons,” said Rebecca Woods, Peer Ed assistant leader. “We don’t want people to remember spring break 2006 because that’s the year that they got an STD or that’s the year they got date-rape drugged.”
A Mary Kay specialist will also be available to provide information about the use of sunscreen to prevent skin cancer, and students are also reminded to stay hydrated in the sun, especially if drinking alcohol.
Woods also encourages students to think of other precautions, like making sure everything is okay with your car before you go on a road trip.
There will be balloons, music and other give aways at the party. It’s something students can stop in at for a few minutes and leave, according to Fiandaca.
While some of the information is geared towards students after the wild “MTV Spring Break,” all students are reminded to be conscientious about their activities, whether they are going on an Alternative Spring Break trip or plan on relaxing at home.
“Regardless of where students themselves may be vacationing this spring break, everyone has a responsibility to encourage their friends to be safe,” said Fiandaca.