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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

UAPD, ASUA and SHAC educate students on safety during spring break

Scott Sullivan (L) an officer with the Tucson Police Department, rides in the police golf cart while a UA student Perris Howard (R) drives in the impaired simulation driving course at the UA Spring Break Safety Fair on the UA Mall on Feb. 27, 2013.
Noelle Haro-Gomez

Scott Sullivan (L) an officer with the Tucson Police Department, rides in the police golf cart while a UA student Perris Howard (R) drives in the impaired simulation driving course at the UA Spring Break Safety Fair on the UA Mall on Feb. 27, 2013.

Student safety is University of Arizona Police Department’s top priority, whether students are on campus or on spring break.

That’s why UAPD, the Student Health Advocacy Committee and the Associated Students of the University of Arizona put on the annual Spring Break Safety Fair on Tuesday on the UA Mall, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Cindy Spasoff, a sergeant and public information officer with UAPD, said the event was all about raising awareness and increasing safety during the break.

“It’s a time when lots of students go to places they’re not familiar with,” Spasoff said. “We’re all about personal safety. Tell a friend where you’re going, stay safe.”

Other booths at the Safety Fair provided information about wearing sunscreen, safe sexual practices, responsible drinking habits and potential legal issues.

Kayla Bernays, a second year law student, was staffing the Student Legal Services booth, making sure students knew the resources they offer, though they don’t give legal advice at the table.

“We get an uptick of appointments right after spring break, so this is a preventive measure,” Bernays said.

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Landlord and tenant disagreements, drug possession, DUIs, other alcohol-related incidents and traffic violations are the most common spring break problems, according to Bernays.

To help educate students about driving drunk, Spasoff pointed out a golf cart course set up with cones at the end of the Mall. Students could drive the course normally at first and then, another time with beer goggles on.

Hailey Heitel, a pre-business freshman, and Annie Parrella, a communications freshman, both tried the course.

“We saw the golf cart and wanted to try it,” Heitel said. “Annie did better than I did. I hit every cone.”

Both women came to the Safety Fair because their sorority gives them points for attending events and because they will be going to Mexico for spring break. Parrella said she’ll be using some of the tips she learned at the expo while traveling.

“I did poorly with the goggles on,” Parrella said. “I would never even think of drinking and driving, but this reinforced it.”

As for legal issues abroad, Andy Stark, Chief of American Citizen Services in the U.S. Consulate General, Nogales, also had a booth at the Safety Fair.

He said that while most countries have an American embassy, areas with a large American presence, like China and Mexico, also have consulates to further aide their citizens. American Citizen Services focuses on assisting Americans with everything from reporting the birth of children to visa problems.

“We do a lot of visas and just assisting American citizens,” Stark said. “The saddest parts, but most important, are the Special Citizen Services, for if an American gets in legal trouble, passes away or gets lost abroad.”

Stark said most students he saw today asked specifically about Rocky Point or Puerto Peñasco, a popular spring break location. He handed out fliers of tips.

“We give general safety information, like ‘drive down there during the day, be aware, be smart,’” Stark said. “Mexico is a foreign country, though we often don’t think of it like that. They have different laws you need to follow.”

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Aaron Rabinowitz, a physiology sophomore and Student Health Advocacy Committee executive committee member, helped organize the student groups for the Safety Fair.

“This event is important, because a lot of students travel abroad, or to unfamiliar places, over spring break,” Rabinowitz said. “We often don’t take into account certain aspects of vacations and we want every student to come back safe and sound after spring break.”

Some of those forgotten aspects are safety of food and drinks, general safety, staying in contact with others and sun protection, Rabinowitz said.

Rabinowitz was pleased with the turnout.

“We had good turnout, it could’ve been better, but we had the rain,” Rabinowitz said. “Still, we had hundreds of students walk by, talk to us, take the sunscreen we’re handing out.”

Spasoff agreed the turn out was “pretty good,” but lower than years past due to weather predictions.

“The weather was a hindrance,” Spasoff said. “We had a couple last-minute cancellations last night due to rain, but there have been a lot of interactions with students.”

UAPD, the Student Health Advocacy Committee, and the rest of the Safety Fair participants all hope that students have a fun, but safe, spring break.


Follow Marissa Heffernan on Twitter.


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