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Spring break safety highlight of fair

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Savannah Douglas and Savannah Douglas | The Daily Wildcat Savannah Douglas / The Daily Wildcat Risa Williams, a police officer with the department of liquor, speaks with Patrick Kelley, the social chair for the UA Home Brew Club, about underage drinking. Kelley expressed gratitude to Williams for spreading the word about underage drinking during the spring break safety fair on Tuesday.

The University of Arizona Police Department hosted the eighth annual Spring Break Safety Fair on the UA mall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday to give students information on how to have a safe spring break.

Debra Cox-Howard, a counselor at Counseling and Psych Services who specializes in substance abuse, said the overall theme and message for the fair was stay smart, stay safe and stay alive. Cox-Howard and other CAPS counselors conducted alcohol screenings for students to determine what their risk level is for poor drinking-induced behavior. Cox-Howard said the information goes into a national database, and the feedback is used to help students nationwide.

“If people score above a certain number, then we’re able to talk with them about what they can do to lower their risk,” Cox-Howard said.

Greg Haft, a pre-med senior, participated in the Safety Fair to inform students about the possible consequences and long-term effects that result from experimenting with drugs.

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“We’re here advocating the potential dangers of some common drugs: cocaine, xanax, ecstasy, molly, promethazine and LSD,” Haft said. “We’re trying to make sure we get a 100 percent return rate from spring break. Don’t let one mistake cause a lifetime of regret, so think before you do.”

Jennifer Chase, program coordinator for Beverage Alcohol Community Information Council, said the Own Up Arizona campaign aims to educate, empower and deflect underage drinking in Arizona’s middle schools, high schools and universities. The campaign is year-long, but Chase said Homecoming, spring break, prom and graduation are the “high-traffic” times of the year and when the campaign is at full force.

“It is an educational program that aims to teach kids what alcohol does to your body underage, and what the penalties are if you get caught with an MIC, an MIP, an underage DUI or using a fake ID,” Chase said. “What we do is go out and teach these programs and ask students to take the pledge not to drink under age and then ask people of age not to buy alcohol for students who are underage.”

Jim Shak, American Citizen Services chief at the U.S. Consulate General in Nogales, Mexico, said the primary mission of the U.S. Consulate is to assist Americans that are in Mexico and to educate people about the role of the state department abroad.

“If [people] ever run into any difficulties they should know to reach out to either the embassy or the consulate,” Shak said. “If they lose their passport, if they are victims of crime, if they do get arrested, anything like that they should reach out to us and we can assist.” 

Shak said they suggest if people plan to go abroad, they should check out the travel.state.gov website to find out about entrance requirements for the country they are visiting and the items that are prohibited in that country.

Jean Young, a volunteer with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said she was trying to spread awareness about how dangerous drunk driving can be. Young said MADD is not a prohibition organization, but rather promotes safe and wise drinking.

“In ’76, I was hit by a drunk driver,” Young said. “I was going to the UA full time and working full time, and it totally changed my whole life. I was in a coma for three months; I had a very small percent chance of living. … I’m a miracle. I have the gift of life, and I want to tell people not to take any chances and to be very, very cautious, because it is our decision whether we are going to have that drink.”

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