Lines blur between alcohol and administration

Do Administrative Efforts Curb Drunk Driving?

Recent information shows that the accident of December 2011 that killed Missouri Southern football players, Diondre Johnson and Michael McCrimmons, was caused by drunk driving.

On the night of the accident the students were returning from the 18 and up nightclub, Icon, located in Springfield, Missouri. Toxicology reports show that driver Jeremy Johnson’s blood alcohol content level was .11%, 3% over the legal limit. Johnson was 19 at the time. Johnson was sentenced to 120 hours of shock incarceration followed by 200 hours of community service, according to the Joplin Globe.

Because Missouri Southern is a dry campus, administration should expect students to go elsewhere to consume alcohol. This accident exemplifies that this could allow for a greater opportunity for drunk driving. However, according to the survey used by Partners in Prevention, a program implemented on campus to promote healthy lifestyles, drunk driving is not a major concern at Missouri Southern.

Heather Arnold, Director of Aquatics and Wellness, and major advocate for Partners in Prevention at Missouri Southern, says, “Actually our numbers are usually not as bad. Drinking and driving is not one that’s usually a big issue on our campus in comparison to other college campuses.” She continues, “Just because the survey, or the study, doesn’t show that there’s a huge issue on campus with something doesn’t mean that we don’t still need to make people aware of the consequences of that.”

CAB’s preventions of drunk driving are considered part of their initiative against underage and binge drinking. The information provided to students includes how much other students drink during a week and an understanding of what is considered a serving of alcohol. Demonstrations directly related to drunk driving are offered less often so that students do not ignore the information due to hearing it often, according to Arnold.

“Sometimes we’ll do the beer goggles and we’ll have activities like obstacle courses with the beer goggles….We bring in, occasionally, a [drunk] driving simulator…. We usually bring that in every couple of years or so,” says Arnold.

The CHEERS program, which provides free, non-alcoholic drinks to designated drivers, has been implemented in Joplin bars thanks to Missouri Southern’s Partners in Prevention. CAB also intentionally provides late night activities on campus so that students have an alternative to drinking.

Missouri Southern’s police department also works with Partners in Prevention to reduce underage drinking and binge drinking on campus. Police Chief Kennedy speaks on the use of breathalyzers,

“If we do detain someone and they’ve been drinking at all we don’t allow them to drive a car….We have party dispersal details where we, if we find out about a party we’ll go there and then make sure that anybody who’s had anything to drink doesn’t get in their car and drive away.”