By Kristi Ashley, Contributor
Students are unwinding from a busy first half of the semester. Spring break is taking some students on trips and leaving others at home for fun. But all should be aware of the spring break fun brings along.
“The old stereotype that spring break is all about ‘Animal House’-type behavior is really an expired perspective,” said Dan Shipp, associate vice chancellor for student affairs. “I’m not naÃ¯ve, and don’t think that it doesn’t still happen to a certain extent, but I think it’s way overstated.”
Public perception of spring break is usually greater than the reality, said Marcia Adler, director of Health Services.
Having a few drinks may help some relax, and many people do so responsibly. However, students should avoid using alcohol as a way to relieve stress, said Nate Bock, certified drug and alcohol counselor at UNO.
“The rule of thumb with drugs is what goes up must come down,” Bock said. “If somebody is taking a depressant, alcohol, to relieve stress, the other end of that is going to be the rebound effect.”
In the long term, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of neurological and cardiovascular problems, psychiatric problems, liver disease and several forms of cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More immediate effects include risky sexual behaviors and unintentional injuries.
“It becomes high-risk for GPA, (and) it becomes high-risk for making bad decisions,” Bock said. “Whether it is getting an MIP or getting a DUI, or ruining a relationship-that’s going to cause you a lot of stress and anxiety.”
Shipp agreed and said students should think carefully about binge drinking situations before getting involved.
“The things that keep professionals in my position up at night are issues related to binge drinking,” Shipp said. “And I don’t think I’m saying anything that students aren’t aware of, but I think it’s always good to have a reminder.”
Bock said the majority of UNO students do not drink heavily. Sixty-four percent of students surveyed reported having four or fewer drinks in the last 10 days.
Many UNO students plan to recharge their batteries by staying close to home, Shipp said. One way people can do so is by participating in UNO’s annual service learning event, 7 Days of Service.
The event offers volunteers of all ages and abilities the chance to complete service projects for several local nonprofits, including Habitat for Humanity, Lauritzen Gardens and the Stephen Center.”It’s not only a chance to affect a positive change in your community, but a chance to get out and maybe meet some new people and work with fellow students, faculty and staff on campus,” Shipp said. “It’s a really positive, healthy experience.”
Adler said students should think of the break as a time to reconnect with family or friends, pick up a good book or just take a walk to clear their minds.
Entertainment options for the week of spring break are almost unlimited. The Strategic Air & Space Museum is offering an interactive science display as well as a national exhibition called, “Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow: Living with the Atomic Bomb 1945-1965.” Students can also relive their childhood by going to a production of “The Lion King” at the Orpheum Theater. Joslyn Art Museum, Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium are two more great options, as are the 27 larger-than-life Lego sculptures at Lauritzen Gardens.
Bock said he and other administrators value students and their goals.
“We want everyone to come back safe and happy, and recharged for the rest of the semester,” Shipp said.