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Alc. awareness PSA hits airwaves
  June 5, 2006
CONTACT:
Mike Stepanovich, 661/654-2456, mstepanovich@csub.edu,
or Jaclyn Loveless, 661/654-2138, jloveless@csub.edu

The California State University, Bakersfield alcohol and drug education committee's "The Morning After" public service announcement starts hitting TV airwaves this week. This latest PSA, written and produced by CSUB student Nolan Portillo, is the next phase of the committee's yearlong media advocacy campaign targeted to decrease alcohol related misconduct by CSUB students.

The media campaign includes a series of PSAs aimed at increasing student knowledge and options when it comes to alcohol. Erika Delamar, co-chair of the committee, said the release of "The Morning After" is timely with CSUB commencement ceremonies scheduled later this week. "Graduations are a time of celebration," Delamar said. "We just want everyone to know that if you are 21 and older and do drink, you can do it in a responsible manner." The first installment, a radio spot that aired last March, targeted spring break.

Portillo, a senior communications major, said the production was a big undertaking. He spent the entire spring quarter writing, shooting, and editing the spot. He even recruited friends to act in the piece.

The main character in the spot wakes up to find himself behind bars after a night of drinking and driving and killing a family that was in another car. Viewers get a glimpse at the character's behavior through a series of flashbacks. The concept "deals with the consequences of (the main character's) behavior," he said. "The audience is put in a position to feel how scary it would be. It's like preventive medicine."

Portillo is thankful for the opportunity to get this kind of exposure for his work. "I was confident going into it that I would be able to do well, not only because of the concept but also because of all the hard work I put into it."

Delamar added the committee's projects, including the PSAs, are important when looking at national statistics. She said studies report that about 1,400 college students between the ages of 18-24 die each year from alcohol-related causes, and 159,000 first-year students will drop out due to alcohol use.

The program is part of the $750,000 CSU Alcohol and Traffic Safety two-year grant given to 10 CSU campuses last year. CSUB received nearly $43,000.

"We have been working since 2001 to increase awareness," said LaShawn Barefield, CSUB chair of the alcohol and drug education committee. "Through our program we try to reduce underage drinking and offer alternatives to drinking."

The CSU Alcohol and Traffic Safety (CSU ATS) program was funded as part of $74.2 million in traffic safety funds awarded to 277 California state departments and communities that are committed to improved traffic safety.

"This program works to change an environment from one where binge drinking is socially acceptable to one that encourages more responsible behavior," said Sunne Wright McPeak, secretary of the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, which administered the funds through the Office of Traffic Safety. "The end result will be increased awareness which translates into lives saved."

Headquarters for the CSU program is at Fresno State, administered through the Division of Student Affairs. The 10 participating campuses are Bakersfield, Chico, Dominguez Hills, Fullerton, Pomona, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, San Marcos, Sonoma, and Stanislaus.

The CSUB committee has already been working to develop outreach programs for students including the annual Oksoberfest event and participating in collegiate alcohol awareness programs.

Specifically, the grant's key goals are to reduce the incidence of driving after consuming alcohol by 18-25 year-old CSU students; and reduce alcohol-related misconduct by CSU students both by 5 percent by Dec. 30, 2006.

The program's objectives include:

  • To improve and/or develop partnerships with law enforcement to accomplish goals such as increasing DUI checkpoints, and campus policy enforcement.
  • To work with each campus to identify strategies to reduce availability and accessibility of alcohol, particularly to minors.
  • To work with media throughout the state and at each campus to publicize the funding of the project, keep the public informed of its intent and progress, and to inform the general public about other alcohol related items and events.

Office of Traffic Safety data shows that fatalities in alcohol-involved collisions increased 8.3 percent up from 1,308 in 2001 to 1,416 in 2002. Since 1998, California has experienced a 32 percent increase in persons killed in alcohol-involved collisions, according to the Office of Traffic Safety. However, in Office of Traffic Safety grant-funded cities, alcohol-involved fatal and injury collisions decreased 26.3 percent. In 2003, 1,445 people were killed and 31,337 injured in alcohol-related crashes in California the fifth consecutive year of increases in alcohol-related fatalities after more than a decade of decline.

The committee will also be conducting another student competition this summer for the creation of one additional PSA spot. For information about the contest or program, contact Delamar at (661) 654-3453 or Barefield at (661) 654-3366.

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