Friday, February 22, 2013

Sex, drugs, alcohol: speaker shares story, challenges students

by Valery Jorgensen, Guest Writer   

     There wasn’t an empty seat to be found in Olson Auditorium for the Sex, Drugs and Alcohol talk. On Tuesday evening, guest speaker Julia Garcia spoke to students about her experiences with all of the above in college and explained how to keep true to yourself.
Guest speaker Julia Garcia shares a word with sophomore Hillary Frett after giving her a signed copy of her book “Somewhere in Between.” Photo by Beau Smith.

    “TRU: The Real U” was Garcia’s main motto and the heart of her presentation. After discussing certain topics, she would end by holding up a “T” with her hands, and the crowd would say “true.”

    Garcia opened her presentation with a poem about herself:  “I am an alcoholic.” Written and performed by Garcia, it recounted past events from when she was an alcoholic in college. After the poem, she explained that in college you either lose yourself or you find yourself. She lost herself.

    Garcia kept the audience engaged with activities, one of which required the audience to stand in response to certain questions if it was true to them.

    Questions ranged from a variety of serious topics, including “who feels alone?” “who knows someone who has tried to commit suicide?” and “who has gotten behind the wheel after drinking?” This exercise demonstrated people are not alone, and that many college students go through the same things.

    Another activity allowed students to text in answers to questions anonymously. These questions were similar, such as, “when you go out at night, how many drinks do you typically have?”

    Students responded to the questions, and their answers appeared on the screen. This allowed for the audience to see where the majority stood related to certain topics.

    The presentation topics ranged from drinking and drugs to rape and abuse. Garcia shared several statistics about sexual assault, including: two in three sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knew. Fifty-ninety percent of rapes are unreported. College women are four times more likely to be sexually assaulted.

    One of Garcia’s final points was alcohol is a primary factor in rape cases. Garcia shared her account of being taken advantage of and emphasized the need for clear consent.

    Sophomore Katie Patton said she was “surprised” by the statistics on sexual assault, but thinks “it is important for college students to be aware of.”

    Alcohol was in most areas of discussion. One question Garcia highlighted was, “when does use become abuse?” She said some key questions to ask when considering this are “what is your intention?” “What is your motivation?” “What benefits will you get?” “What do you want to be really good at?”

    The “abuse to use” section hit home with athletes. Softball player senior Kaaren Hatlen, said the presentation was helpful, especially to go through it as a team. Hatlen said Garcia presenting as a former student athlete “made it applicable.”

    Student athletes were required to attend the event.

     Garcia explained that you can’t have both: you can’t be a really good athlete and a really good partier, you have to choose. This idea is equivalent with academics and partying, where students will need to choose which one means more to them.

    Another key idea was “destroy you or drive you.” Garcia said these are the two options when something bad happens. She advised you let it “drive you” to be the best you can be.

    This led into the “impossible versus I’m possible” part of the presentation. Garcia said no one can tell you that something is impossible, and to instead respond with “I’m possible.”

    Feedback following the presentation was predominantly positive. Sophomore Taylor Christensen said, “I really enjoyed Julia’s presentation. I thought it was relatable in a lot of ways, and although the target audience was athletes, I felt as though I learned a lot as an RA.”