Love N’ Liquor highlights awareness

Linda Hancock

Linda Hancock

Linda Hancock, nationally known speaker and a nurse at Virginia Commonwealth University, provided a fitting introduction to Alcohol Awareness Week Thursday evening, Oct. 16, in Bentley 207 with her creative audience event, appropriately titled “Love N’ Liquor.”

As students filed into the auditorium, they were given clickers on lanyards to participate in the night’s event, which included taking audience polls of drinking habits, drug use, and sexual experiences, and enabled the students to compare what they think their fellow students do versus what actually goes on.

The audience was asked how often they think Johnson State students drink alcohol, and the majority of the audience said 6-10 days per month, with only two percent voting for zero times a month. The actual answer? Twenty-five percent hardly ever drink alcohol.

Hancock explained to the audience that we believe more people do things like drink alcohol or do drugs (which Hancock referred to as “molecules”) purely because they are more visible than the people who don’t.

“Who do you remember when you go to a party?” Hancock asked. “You remember the person who was so drunk they just puked on your shoes.”

To reinforce her point, a video was shown, in which viewers were asked to count how many times players dressed in white clothes passed a basketball. Many people who hadn’t seen the video before didn’t notice when a man in a gorilla suit walked in and out of the shot. The people who did see the gorilla didn’t notice the background change colors, or one player leave the game entirely.
“When you come to college,” Hancock said, “if you’ve been taught everybody drinks, and when you go to a party you’re looking for drinkers, the people that drink in low-risk ways and are not drinking are invisible.”

Other polls were taken throughout the evening, pertaining to issues such as drug use and sexual activity. The audience guessed how many sexual partners their fellow students had in the past year. Ten percent said zero to one partners, when the actual percentage was 54 who had zero to none..

Other questions asked shed some light on how much students actually know about pregnancy, alcohol and drug safety, and sexual assault. The majority of the audience guessed that the number of days women are fertile per month was less than it actually is. More people believed people smoked marijuana than actually do. Murmurs of surprise echoed from the audience after each poll was taken.

In between the audience polls, Hancock shared her own sobering stories from students she treated as a nurse, and her own personal experiences. The audience was told about how she got pregnant while in the army and became depressed and suicidal. She had a few inspirational words for the audience in light this issue that many students deal with as well.

“You know what I found, guys?” Hancock said. “Suicide is the only mistake you cannot learn from.”

Hancock ended the evening with a story about her son, who had many problems with alcohol and drugs as a teenager, and after many struggles became sober after starting college, and asked the audience a simple question: “Do you have a group of friends at Johnson college that you care about? You are so important in your lives… Would your team or group of friends be more successful if they used less molecules?”

Unsurprisingly, the answer was overwhelmingly “yes.”

“The goal is to keep your eyes on the prize of what you want,” Hancock said.