A new University of Oregon campaign aims to educate students about knowing alcohol limits and partying responsibly.
A cowgirl is spilling over one of the tables at The Webfoot bar. It’s Saturday night, and overflow from a University of Oregon Greek Life “barn dance” has taken over; the room is a pool of plaid flannel shirts, cowboy boots, and American flag bandanas.
“Omigosh, did you hear there’s a contest for who can blow the highest BAC over there?” says the girl to her date. She’s wearing a faux-denim dress and accidentally abandons her orange drink on a table nearby. “We should totally try, I think we would win.”
Unfortunately, the sorority cowgirl wouldn’t be so lucky. The “contest” was part of a Balance the Buzz Launch Party and anyone who blew under a 0.08 BAC, blood alcohol content, into a Breathalyzer got a free “Party Like a Champ” t-shirt.
Balance the Buzz is a student-run campaign aimed to help other college students drink responsibly while realizing their alcohol limits. What started as an intangible concept of UO’s Ad Team recently became a reality when the group kicked off the operation with a lesson on the “art of partying”.
“People don’t recognize the consequences of their actions,” says campaign member Leah Kennedy, a UO junior. “It’s easy to use being drunk as an excuse, but it’s more fun to go out if you remember it the next day. We want to make people more aware of the way they look and act while partying.”
Ironically, the bar is teeming with people not balancing their buzzes. Drunken singing, yelling, dancing, and typical Eugene bar havoc ensues. It’s nothing the two Webfoot employees seated by the front door haven’t seen before. “Nothing’s going to stop these kids,” one of them mutters.
Features of the event are wildly popular with the inebriated crowd, though. The line for a free photo booth snakes through the bar and a water cooler supplies a multitude of red cups. Attendees are also offered a Balance the Buzz drawstring backpack, complete with a beer opener keychain and water bottle.
“We wanted to give people things that are useful,” says Kennedy. “We’re college students so we understand the culture, we participate in it.”
Eugene local Misse Peterson arrives late to the event with some friends but takes the message seriously. She says she usually has a few drinks before going out, but doesn’t often order at the bars in order to save money. “People should learn how to have a good time without getting hurt. We need to keep talking about issues like binge drinking or people will forget how serious it is.”
Balance the Buzz plans to do just that, as the group’s social media campaign will be an ongoing conversation online between members and students. The group also hopes to be a part of future UO events such as football games, where cases of binge drinking are abundant. “We want to be in the middle of things, where the issues are,” says Kennedy.
The ability of group members to relate to the culture of college drinking could be the campaign’s biggest success. “We realize college students drink,” says Kennedy. “The point is to promote anti-binging. In order to enjoy your evening to the fullest you should know your limit, because no one wants to be that girl that has to be taken care of every night.”