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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Halloweening? Play it safe!

Published: October 28, 2011
Section: Features

In middle school and high school we were taught that alcohol and drugs are dangerous and that we shouldn’t use them. It was that simple. This limited education did little to prevent kids from clandestinely experimenting with illegal substances without much understanding of what they were actually consuming. In college, however, students are placed in an environment without parental control where they are held responsible for their own decisions about drugs and alcohol. As a first-year, three years ago, I appreciated the way Dawn Skop, the university’s alcohol and drug counselor, presented basic information about the effects of alcohol. She made it clear that even though we were all under 21 and were not legally allowed to drink, we were nonetheless in college, where alcohol was readily accessible. She taught us how to be in control of our own alcohol consumption in a way that was practical and honest.

That is why I am a proud member of PERC, Peers Educating about Responsible Choices. PERC is a peer-based education group that promotes informed decisions about drugs and alcohol through various events on campus. Contrary to popular belief, PERC does not advocate abstinence but rather promotes education so that individuals can make their own informed decisions.

Despite the comprehensive programming that all first-years are supposed to undergo during orientation, many operate with very little knowledge about the effects of their decisions.

Last year, our community faced a lot of problems from other high-risk events, such as Pachanga. As a result, the university formed the ad hoc Drug and Alcohol Committee. PERC was the only student-run club, besides BEMCo, to be specifically mentioned in their report released last month.

PERC strongly believes that it is more important for everyone to have a certain base level of knowledge rather than for only a select few to have a high level of knowledge. That way more people will be equipped to make their own informed decisions. This past Monday PERC tabled by Usdan with games, candy and helpful tips for a safe and memorable Halloween, including the information listed below.

1. Make a plan for the night and stick to it. Ask yourself, what’s your target BAC? How many drinks do you want to have? For most people, a target BAC is .06-.1. For a female who weighs 110 pounds, that usually means one drink per hour, but there are lots of factors that can influence a person’s tolerance such as gender, weight, lifestyle, family history, etc.

2. Don’t go too hard too fast. Stocking up ahead of time won’t last the whole party.

3. Stay hydrated by drinking water. It is a good idea to space out your alcohol intake with non-alcoholic beverages.

4. Make sure you know what is in your drink. Don’t let anyone you don’t know pour your drink for you and never leave your drink unattended.

5. Be there for your friends. Watch what they’re drinking and don’t leave them alone at parties.

6. Don’t be afraid to call BEMCo if you feel that it may be necessary. Contrary to popular belief, calling BEMCo does not result in legal repercussions. BEMCo, however, does not respond to calls from off campus. If you need medical assistance off-campus, call 911.

Have a fun and safe Halloween!