Students were put into a real life situation when given the chance to see what it was like to get behind the wheel of a car under the influence of alcohol.
On Oct. 4, a DUI simulator was brought to campus so students could safely see the effects of drunk driving. Students were able to sit in a 2001 Mustang Convertible and drive through a simulated course that appeared on a screen in front of them. The car drove as if the driver had a 0.1 blood alcohol level, the illegal blood alcohol level in Connecticut.
The Student Government Association senior class held “drunken donuts” during the morning, handing out free breakfast and cider.
The Hamden Police Department was also on campus to answer questions by students and to hand out pamphlets. Residential life was on hand to give students quizzes that dealt with alcohol related questions, which were entered into a drawing for a gift certificate for dinner and a movie.
“The goal for this event is to raise awareness of the serious affects drinking and driving can cause,” said Katie Breen, the Novelties Chair for the Student Programming Board, and person in charge of booking the event. “We want students to drive the simulator and realize how dangerous it is to drive drunk behind the wheel.”
Students had mixed reactions to the simulator.
“It really made the driver seem like they were in a situation in which they were drinking a lot,” said sophomore and undeclared major Andrea Szymona. “It teaches people that they may not think they are drunk when they get in a car, but they really are.”
Another student thought it was not as realistic as it could have been.
“It would have been more realistic if other factors were involved, such as double vision, puking and being chased by cops,” said freshman and political science major Arthur Jackson.
Al Close, president of the Virtual Motion DUI Simulator, said he feels there has generally been a positive response to the simulator, although some guys treat it as a play station, refusing to learn and completely missing the point of the whole thing.
John Twining, chief of security and safety, attended the event and said he feels drinking by Quinnipiac students is a major issue on campus.
Twining approved of the event, hoping students would see the effects of drinking and driving.
“Anything that my department can do to keep students stay safe is a good thing,” he said.
Hamden’s Chief of Police Nolan was also on call for the event. He discussed new programs that have gone into effect, such as increased DUI stops in Hamden and a Hamden officer that has been assigned to Quinnipiac in a program initiated by Lahey, the mayor of Hamden, Carl Amento and himself.
Nolan said the main concern was proactively reaching the Quinnipiac student body to prevent DUI’s.
“Quinnipiac is fortunate to have an administrative staff so concerned with eliminating students driving under the influence,” said Nolan.
The Student Programming Board arranged the event together with Monique Drucker, assistant dean of Student Affairs, and the Drug and Alcohol Task Force Committee.
The committee is made up of faculty, staff, students and representatives from different areas on campus, along with Captain Clark of the Hamden Police Department.
“The committee is used to create programs that focus on awareness and education throughout the year,” said Drucker.
It was created as a task force to address the alcohol policy. Drucker was happy that the idea for the simulator came from the Student Programming Board.
“It is a statement coming from the students and shows a sense of heightened awareness,” said Drucker.
With the deaths of last year’s students in mind, the event was a means to help prevent drunk driving accidents.
“After what happened last year with all of the drunk driving accidents, I think it’s important to see what it’s like for people that drive under the influence,” said senior and physical therapy major Dave Carlton. “Hopefully people will be able to take something away from it, and people will finally realize the consequences.”
There were two fatal crashes last spring involving alcohol and high speed.
John Paul Mederios, 20, died April 19 when the Jeep Cherokee he was driving hit a tree, went airborne and rolled over several times on New Road, within a few feet of the Dean Robert W. Evans College of Liberal Arts Center. Three passengers in the vehicle were injured.
Medierios’ blood alcohol level was 0.23, more than twice the legal limit. He was traveling about 80 mph at the time of the crash.
The other accident was that of Jessica Gambon, 21, who was killed Feb. 8, when Stacy Spivack, 20, the driver of the 2001 Ford Explorer, lost control of the vehicle and it flipped. Three passengers in the vehicle were injured.
Spivack’s blood alcohol level was 0.098, just below the legal limit. Police said that she was traveling between 59 and 62 mph in an area with a posted speed limit of 40 mph.
Information to this story was contributed by Patricia O’Leary.