Group boosts alcohol education, awareness

By Lori Wilkosz

Increased interest in NIU’s chapter of Boost Alcohol Consciousness Concerning the Health of University Students (BACCHUS) last fall has encouraged the organization to continue its efforts to educate NIU about responsible drinking.

The program was started to promote healthy drinking, not to stop drinking, said Carolyn Nowak, president of the NIU’s BACCHUS chapter.

The NIU chapter, which originated in 1983, consists of 33 members and has sponsored such events as “mocktail” bars, mock drunk driving accidents and alcohol awareness week.

BACCHUS served non-alcoholic tropical drinks to the audience at Thursday’s CAB-sponsored reggae concert, Nowak said.

BACCHUS and College Students Against Drunk Driving will sponsor NIU’s alcohol awareness week next week. Events will include a speaker about alcohol awareness, a car filled with beer cans that students can hit with a hammer, a movie about drinking and information about BACCHUS and CSADD, she said.

In the future, BACCHUS hopes to sponsor more “mocktail” bars at CAB-sponsored concerts and to start a program in which non-drinkers can show a card to bartenders and get free non-alcoholic drinks, she said.

Joanna Deuth, health educator and BACCHUS advisor, said some students attended a BACCHUS conference last spring and brought interest back to NIU. Also, more money was awarded to BACCHUS to advertise and promote the program to gain members.

Deuth hopes that BACCHUS can increase membership by making people aware that the group does not condemn drinking—it promotes healthy and responsible drinking.

People can drink without getting hurt, she said.

“I joined BACCHUS because I think it is a good program to promote alcohol awareness and I wanted to find out about the options available to establish healthy drinking habits,” Nowak said. “Drinking is an issue of concern and importance because of incidents that happen with college students.”

“I think BACCHUS is good for establishing responsible drinking and not abstinence from drinking. We talk about drinking and having a good time, but also being responsible while doing that,” Deuth said.

BACCHUS members have attended a national conference in Chicago and a statewide conference at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Nowak said. NIU will host the statewide BACCHUS conference next fall.

BACCHUS is a national organization with 291 chapters throughout the United States. All of the chapters are located on college campuses, Deuth said.

Any college showing interest in starting a BACCHUS chapter can do so if a faculty member advises the chapter, she said.