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Carroll College and student union preach alcohol awareness with "OkSOBERfest"

Carroll OkSOBERfest
Posted at 9:02 PM, Oct 26, 2022

HELENA — Traditionally, National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week is the third week of October, but this year Carroll College and the Associated Students of Carroll College are putting their own spin on the week with "OkSOBERFest" ahead of the Halloween weekend.

The week is filled with fun activities for students including tricycle races or mazes wearing goggles that simulate various levels of impairment.

“It felt like I was leaning back the whole time. And like I was just like falling backwards and just off balance. Everything seemed like it was just kind of shifted over," said Carroll College freshman Max Ortiz after finishing the tricycle race.

Most of the week's events are meant to be fun and light-hearted, but the main goal is to spread awareness regarding things like drinking and driving, alcohol abuse, and substance abuse.

"My choices, especially around like alcohol, and just how much how much control that I have over myself and how much my choices can impact other people,” said freshman Asher Casey.

Events throughout the week include escape rooms, a dance, and a tailgate ahead of Carroll College football's game against Eastern Oregon on Saturday.

While most of the events are meant to be light-hearted, some weren't. On Tuesday, Carroll students, faculty, and Helena community members were invited to listen to a lecture titled Life CONSequences: A Tale of Redemption, Choices and Decisions by Ethan Fisher. A story that chronicles Fisher’s life battling mental health issues, alcohol and substance abuse, which ultimately led to him killing someone in a drunk driving accident.

A type of accident that hits home for Carroll College students.

"I thought my friend was joking with me, and then he kind of just looked me in the eye and didn't say anything and I realized it wasn't a joke," said ASCC Vice President Liam Lynch. "Then, it was just fear. You know, I ran around, called her about 100 times. It was a lot of fear in the moment, that it was real."

On November 19th, 2021, Bridget Kirby, a sophomore at Carroll College died as a passenger in an alleged drunk driving accident. Tuesday's speech would have coincided with her 21st birthday.

Tuesday evening's event was partly in honor of Kirby, and in hopes that messages spread throughout the week prevent another accident from happening to another Carroll College student.

"I have a real desire to do something to prevent that from happening again. So a lot of this is absolutely personally motivated for me. I have a huge desire to do something to honor her and to live out her memory and to make sure that we're doing everything we can to make sure that nothing like that happens again," said ASCC President, Ellie Sievertsen.

“To see this many people come out for whether they knew Bridget or not, for information and a story. And I think it's so powerful that so many people came here tonight, especially on her birthday,” said Lynch.

Following Fisher's presentation, Sievertsen announced that Carroll College and Helena Taxi Service would be renewing a program that was discontinued a few years prior: a free ride home for Carroll Students.

While the details of the program are not officially finished and may not be available to students in time for the Halloween weekend, Carroll College president Dr. John Cech announced that any student that uses the taxi service over the weekend should save their receipt to give to him, and each student would be reimbursed.

As the week comes to a close, there are still several events left for students to participate in including a dance and free movie on Saturday night.