I am honored to say that I work for an office on campus that has implemented what could quite possibly be the greatest drinking-alternative activity to hit UW-Eau Claire this fall. This is my second semester working for the Center of Alcohol Studies and Education, and our entire office is thrilled with the impact that the Saturday Night Shuttle has had thus far.
The excitement began last spring when our office learned that a timeworn idea had finally been approved by the university. In our hopes of offering students engaging late night alternatives to drinking, and in partnership with Student Senate, CASE made possible the Saturday Night Shuttle. Not to be mistaken with the Rightway Shuttle, or the “drunk bus,” the Saturday Night Shuttle offers both off-campus and on-campus students the chance to travel to Eau Claire’s hot spots every Saturday night, free of charge.
My work with CASE is anything but an office job. From classroom presentations to event planning, I have been given countless opportunities to participate in activities that allow me to work alongside my peers in an enjoyable environment.
For all of the important work that CASE does in educating students about healthy lifestyle decisions, especially in respect to alcohol, the results are never as immediate as those we see on the shuttle. We hope that through our work, students are able to make the right decisions when it counts. Whether it’s deciding not to drive home after a night of drinking, or knowing when to call for help when a friend may be experiencing alcohol poisoning, our office locks our doors each night hoping we have provided information on how to save a life.
I have been fortunate enough to work two shifts on the Saturday Night Shuttle, assisting with meticulous data collection, trivia and prize-giveaways. In this situation, the results are immediate. Students are making healthy decisions and beating the stereotype that college is all about drinking when it certainly is not. In one of the alcohol sanction courses that CASE conducts, we ask a question to students that can often be eye-opening. “Where did you meet your best friend from UWEC?” “In class,” “intramurals,” “the dorms,” and “student ‘org’” are popular answers. I have never heard one of my peers answer with “a party.”
Simply stated, there are not enough drinking alternatives offered to students. Many students turn to alcohol because there is merely nothing else for them to do. Students often find themselves in a habit. Because there are limited existing fun alternatives, they turn to drinking weekend after weekend. This rut can lead to expensive fines, sexual assault, run-ins with the police, hospital visits and poor grades, among many other consequences.
Together, Student Senate and CASE are giving students the tools to spend their Saturday night in a sober state with positive outcomes involved. As crazy as it may sound to some, it is possible to have a good time in Eau Claire without the involvement of alcohol.
We recognize that there are many students that choose to not drink alcohol, however, we encourage all students to explore the city of Eau Claire and get involved in alcohol-free activities through the use of the Satuday night Shuttle. I encourage students, both on-campus and off-campus to use the Saturday Night Shuttle to their advantage.
Not only is it a free bus service that caters to the desires of students, but it is also a great opportunity for students to meet new people and win fantastic prizes that any college student can appreciate. The shuttle hands out prizes to randomly selected students that are able to answer trivia questions. Among some of the prizes include gift certificates to local restaurants and stores, UW-Eau Claire paraphernalia, and coupons to hot spots around town. If you are interested in giving the shuttle a try, a full schedule of bus times and stops is
Rachel Minske is a sophomore broadcast journalism major and a Staff Writer at The Spectator.