Members of a student group want to eradicate student drunk driving while changing negative perceptions about the Greek community.
Student Greg Golden founded Greeks Against Drunk Driving last month. He said students ignore drunk driving risks until they face consequences.
“People think they are not going to hurt someone, but the fact is once every 45 seconds there is an auto accident involving intoxicated driving,” he said. “You do the math. It is unrealistic to think that you will not be affected because one in every three people are directly affected by this.”
Accidents caused by driving under the influence can change a life in a second, GADD public relations chair Suzanne Fortner said.
“The more that I went to the meetings for GADD, the more I started thinking, ‘What if they hit my mom, my dad, or my sister?’ These are real things that you have to ask,” she said. “The thought of losing them to someone else’s careless decision really made me passionate about stopping it.”
UNM Greek members have had issues with DUIs in the past, Golden said, and they want students to understand the repercussions of their actions.
“A couple members of my fraternity had gotten in trouble at one point,” he said. “At the University, the majority of growing takes place in a person’s life. Kids make choices that will affect them for rest of their life, so what better time than at college to address them about this issue?”
Golden said people don’t realize the extent to which fraternities and sororities participate in community service and activism projects.
“There is this common misconception that Greek organizations are all about one thing only, the party aspect,” he said.
As students, GADD members can better communicate to other
students the importance of the issue, Fortner said.
“Students need to hear it from other students who can relate it to their lives,” she said. “I do have friends who drink and drive, so that’s why I’m so passionate about it. It’s all about targeting people you know. That is how it is going to be different.”
The UNM chapter of GADD is the first of its kind, Golden said, and he hopes to expand to universities across the nation. He said a safe-ride program is one of the projects in the works. The program would allow students to call a driver to come pick them up if they had been drinking.
Fortner said two of Golden’s friends were injured when they were hit by a drunk driver. She said that’s why Golden is passionate about the issue.
“He saw firsthand how it can impact anyone directly at any minute,” she said. “That is so scary.”
Students intent on partying should plan ahead, Fortner said, to avoid a dangerous situation.
“I know there are countless careless decisions made when people drink, but if you drink and drive you are putting others and yourself in danger,” she said. “There are a lot of people who are willing to be designated drivers, or if you are close enough, you can walk home.”