Amanda Cheek, News Editor

Among the many things that George Mason University has strived to educate students of is alcohol abuse. This topic has never had an entire week devoted to it, however, and the first-ever Alcohol Awareness Week will be taking place this week at Mason.

The Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life and the Office of Alcohol, Drug and Health Education have collaborated to make this event possible, but taking the lead in planning the actual events of the week fell on the shoulders of Courtney Webber, the vice president of risk management for the Panhellenic Council at Mason.

“One of the goals [of being the Risk Management Chair] was to sponsor an event during National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week. Well, since I like to dream big, I thought why not do a program for the entire week?” said Webber, a tourism and events management major and senior at Mason.

After organizing a committee of six chairs from each of the Panhellenic sororities and a seventh chair representing the Interfraternity Council, Webber and the committee decided on the events of the week and how they wanted to promote AAW.

After working over eight months promoting and organizing the week and its events, AAW will culminate today with the first kiosk in the Johnson Center from noon to 4 p.m., that will continue throughout the week. The kiosk will include educational information and the opportunity to sign a pledge to abstain from alcohol during this week.

If students choose to sign up, they will be given a green and yellow ribbon to wear, and will have their name appear on an oversized false driver’s license, which will be displayed at the kiosk. Student organizations can also pledge as a group and have the organization’s name displayed on a false license plate.

The third full week of October was chosen by the committee because it directly coincides with the National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week, in which more than 1,000 campuses across the U.S. participate in, according to a press release issued from Chelsea Cunningham, the graduate assistant for the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life and the Office of Student Activities.

The Mason Greek community’s annual Greek Speak on Tuesday, Oct. 20 will feature comedian Bernie McGrenahan as part of AAW at 7 p.m. in the Student Union Building II Ballroom.

Students can participate in a drunk goggle relay race on the Student Union Building I quad on Wednesday, Oct. 21 from noon to 3 p.m. To sign up for the relay contact Courtney Webber at, or by showing up to the event at noon Wednesday.

On average, one alcohol-impaired driving crash fatality occurs every 40 minutes in the U.S., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Fatality Analysis Reporting System.

“There are many stereotypes of college students that they are all irresponsible and drink in excess. This event is showing that college students are responsible and do care about issues like this,” said Cunningham.
A candlelight vigil will be held in front of SUB I, on Thursday, Oct. 22 at 8 p.m. Students are invited to gather and reflect on how alcohol may have affected them or loved ones. A small number of students will speak about their experiences and attendees will have the opportunity as well. A limited number of candles will be provided, but students may bring their own.

A DUI simulator will be on the SUB I quad on Friday Oct. 23 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., provided by the P.E.E.R.S. program or Professionals Encouraging Educational Reform Statewide. The simulator is an actual car that students can sit in, and features virtual reality goggles inside of it for students to wear if participating.

The simulation shows the view of someone becoming progressively more intoxicated until they exceed the legal limit. When completed, the participants can see how they drive and what destruction they would have caused had they really been drinking and driving.

“Alcohol abuse and drinking and driving are such important issues not just in the greek community, but for all college students,” said Webber. “We thought it was important to show that students care about these issues and that we are taking action to do something about it.”

“I wish you could quote my laugh,” said Rachael Brookover, a senior and government and international politics major, when asked if she thinks Alcohol Awareness Week will help stop alcohol abuse.

“I don’t think it helps because curiosity trumps education to me,” said Brookover. “I think you can educate kids about alcohol awareness, but if they want to drink they will, especially if they drink recklessly, until they mess up.”

Aubrey Meusel, a junior art and visual technology major thinks otherwise about AAW.

“Personally, I think it helps because a lot of kids are faced with peer pressure, but if they knew how bad binge drinking is . . .and the consequences of going to parties and not knowing what they were getting themselves into, they would think twice,” said Meusel, who is also a resident advisor on campus.