Keg stands on a dry campus? Failed sobriety test but no arrest? Take home a new iPod Nano by bravely crunching a cockroach?
All these things are possible at this year’s OkSOBERfest, an alcohol free event hosted by the Peer Health Education Office that kicks off 7 p.m. Oct. 29, in the Ponderosa Room of the student union.
OkSOBERfest will be offering free food and kegs of root beer provided by Thunderhead Brewery. There will be lots of opportunities to win prizes— including a Halloween costume contest.
Jared Jensen, a senior criminal justice major from Plainview, has dressed up for the OkSOBERfest costume contest twice. “I enjoyed all the OkSOBERfest events the past years,” Jensen said. “There were a lot of unique costumes and games that made the night fun, plus the root beer was good.”
OkSOBERfest activities include simulated sobriety tests, Black Jack, karaoke and a new event, “The Battle of the B's,” consisting of three parts. The “Battle of the Brains” requires contestants to answer questions regarding binge drinking. In the “The Battle of the Body,” contestants wearing sumo suits and beer goggles will maneuver through obstacles. For “The Battle of the Will,” which is similar to "Fear Factor," students will have to eat different combinations of food, including real insects. The winner of “The Battle of the B's” will receive the grand prize of a new iPod Nano.
Erik O’Brien, a recent multimedia graduate from Hastings, participated in the Fear Factor part of OkSOBERfest. O’Brien has no sense of smell; he went in thinking it would be easy to eat the crazy foods if he couldn’t smell them.
“It was the texture that got me,” O’Brien said. But O’Brien found an unexpected challenge. “If you mix anything with peanut butter it’s hard to swallow.”
“One of the more popular activities among students is our simulated sobriety tests, which are performed by a Kearney police officer,” said Ismael Torres, UNK Health Education coordinator. “KPD has been very kind to assign an officer to this event every year to help educate our students on the dangers of binge drinking, and the consequences of high risk activities.”
According to Torres, the KPD officer brings beer goggles and has students perform simple tasks while wearing the goggles. Each pair of goggles simulates a different level of intoxication and provides the officer with an opportunity to discuss that level and how it affects the body.
“OkSOBERfest gives students an opportunity to engage with other students, police officers and staff in a way that they may not otherwise have done,” Torres said. “The hope is through this type of program students who need help can get it, and be successful while here at UNK.”
Every two years UNK students take a survey as part of the American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment. According to the most recent survey, more than 65 percent of students reported that they had fewer than four drinks the last time they partied/socialized. However, when asked how many drinks they thought the typical student at UNK had the last time they partied/socialized, 70 percent of students stated five or more.
“It’s no secret that many students believe underage drinking is a rite once they’ve entered college,” Torres said. “The benefit of an event like OkSOBERfest is that it helps debunk this idea by presenting students with accurate information about what is really going on around them.”
Reporter Brett Miller