A sobering “tail”: Students get unique lesson about drinking

beanbag toss

Students take turns trying to hit targets while wearing what one health educator called “DUI goggles,” a device that simulates the altered vision of someone under the influence of alcohol.

In time for football season—a sport that offers fans plenty of opportunities to party—students recently received an in-your-face reminder of the dangers of drinking too much.

Student Health Services personnel used a somewhat provocative approach to teach young people about how consuming alcohol can impair vision and, likely, judgment.

Students donned “DUI goggles” that resemble swimming goggles but are outfitted with lenses that blur vision and skew where objects appear to be located. Then they tried to toss beanbags through cutouts on a board.

“The first time I was off two feet, maybe a little more than two feet, to the left,” said freshman computer science major Jose Morgan on his inability to hone in on the targets. Others had similar experiences.

“I felt a little disoriented, a little dizzy,” explained biology major Frangely Tejeda, a second-year student. She said she appreciated the message that such a demonstration sends. “Some people don’t understand that [drinking] does affect your perception, your brain’s functioning. There are some students that think, ‘Oh, it won’t happen to me,’ but it does happen to everybody.”

Those taking the challenge could choose from tinted “nighttime” goggles that simulate the vision of someone with a blood alcohol level between .07 and .10 percent, and clear “daytime” goggles that simulate a blood alcohol level of between .12 and .15 percent. In Florida the legal blood alcohol level for drivers is .08 percent.

And while the simulation reminded participants that drinking and driving remain a volatile mix, Senior Health Educator Ebonie Paris stressed that overconsumption—which she added “is all dependent upon how much your body is able to handle” as “everybody’s different”—can lead to a host of questionable actions.

“As an assistant in a residence hall, I actually had the experience of seeing students come from a tailgating event straight into the dorm with cups and things of that nature,” Parris said. “I saw it myself where a student has actually been assaulted after somebody’s been drinking.”

A survey conducted by the American College Health Association on FIU’s campus last year found that 22.3 percent of respondents who said they consumed alcohol reported that they did something as a result of drinking that they later regretted. While that number surely remains disturbing to health educators, parents and many students, it falls significantly below the national average of 34.1 percent.

Parris and her staff talked to students and distributed printed material for two hours from a temporary table in the breezeway of the Green Library at MMC. It was the goggles, however, that piqued the curiosity of passersby and seemed to make the greatest educational impact. “The more interactive and hands-on, the better,” Parris said.

Freshman political science major Emir Alpaslan agreed that the goggles activity trumps just talking about the dangers of excessive drinking.

“When you experience it, it’s locked inside your head, so you learn.”

Student Health Services will continue its series of alcohol awareness programs with “1 tequila, 2 tequila, 3 tequila, floor! Do you know your limits?” an interactive game to be held at 11 a.m. on Sept. 16 in the Green Library Breezeway.


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