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MSU Profiles

Raising awareness through drinking and driving campaign

Fact: impaired driving is one of the most often committed crimes. Fact: 43.8 percent of fatal crashes in the state of North Dakota are alcohol-related. Fact: for one of every 140 miles driven in North Dakota in 2000, a person with a blood alcohol of over .10 (.08 is the legal limit) sat behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. The list of sobering statistics goes on.

In order to bring these statistics to light and further awareness of the dangers of drunk driving, Minot State University has participated in the annual "It's a Slam Dunk, Don't Drive Drunk" campaign since it's inception in 2013. The Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference and member schools started the initiative to commemorate Drake Bigler. Drake, the five month old son of Southwest Minnesota State University's Men's Basketball Coach Brad Bigler, was killed by a drunk driver in 2012.

"Drinking and driving is a problem that we are aware of, but still is happening all around us," said Ryann Rafferty, MSU senior and Slam Dunk chair. "As student athletes, it's important for us to bring awareness not only to our campus but to our community. We can do nothing but great things with this campaign with the support of our fans and community and we thank you!"

The Student Athlete Advisory Committee sponsors the event annually. This year, the committee got more of the Minot State campus involved and recruited enrollment services, recruiters and staff. Enrollment services brought information to area basketball games and promoted "It's a Slam Dunk, Don't Drive Drunk," gave free tickets to the Feb. 5 game, making it a community event. This year's event included a raffle with prizes, and a halftime promotion featuring "drunk goggles," which allowed individuals to experience the severity of how difficult it is to drive while under the influence of alcohol.

"Some people think the drunk goggles are supposed to be fun, but in actuality it's making a point about how impaired a person could really be drunk driving," Rafferty explained. "I wish we could have more than one day to do this project. It should be promoted every day!'

While the event may only take place on one day, students are doing all they can to spread the word and get more people involved.

"This is the first year we branched out from athletics," said Micah Holmen, MSU senior and SAAC president. "I think it's cool when a whole athletic department can come together for different initiatives, and this is a noble one, everyone likes this idea. Drinking and driving is a problem everywhere, and we came together not only as a department, but now as an entire campus for the cause."

NSIC SAAC student-athletes collected over 30,000 pledges since the campaign began. Minot State University and NSIC encourages fans to support this effort and to always drive responsibly.