MADD message driven home to students
By Julianne Kaplan
Mothers Against Drunk Driving kicked off their campaign this week, but had a disappointing turnout.
On Wednesday, the London Chapter of MADD began its campaign at Western for the second year in a row at Saugeen-Maitland Hall.
Melissa Cousineau, VP-student affairs for the University Students' Council, said Wednesday's campaign, which targeted students in residences, had a low turnout. "It was very disappointing because it is such an important cause which really can affect anybody."
The launch included people relating their experiences and tragedies with drunk drivers, while London police gave breathalyser demonstrations. The University Police Department was also on hand to inform students about its various programs, Cousineau said.
The USC provided volunteers and decorations for the event, Cousineau said. She added the MADD red ribbon campaign lasts until the first week of January.
"We try and do these campaigns around events like the Charity Ball and Homecoming, where we know people are going to be drinking," Cousineau said.
Steve Clark, spokesperson and volunteer at the London Chapter of MADD, said the mission statement of the organization is to stop impaired driving and to support victims of this violent crime. He added Western is a good location to target and the association with the university has been wonderful.
"As a student campus, where a lot of drinking can occur, Western is a great location to launch this type of campaign because it creates good awareness," he said.
Clark added the campaign involves tying red ribbons onto cars, as a symbol of commitment to driving sober through the holiday season. The ribbons can be picked up at different locations including Dominos Pizza and Canada Post offices, Clark said, with donations optional but appreciated.
According to Clark, MADD doesn't end its work in January. Throughout the year, regular candlelight vigils are held for victims and presentations given at various locations, such as the Western Fair.
Const. Wendy McGowan of the UPD said having MADD on campus is a good way to share with the rest of London how serious Western is about issues related to responsible drinking.
McGowan said in order to change society's view, the younger generation needs to be targeted. While students are generally responsible for not drinking and driving there is still concern about excessive drinking, which can lead to safety issues, like the use of the date rape drug and violence, she added.
Cousineau and McGowan both noted the difficulties of getting information out to students. Cousineau said a new approach may be needed to attract students to these types of events. "We try to do more to cater to the student population without sounding like we're preaching," she said.