While spring break comes with an abundance of time for students, the chance of risky behavior can increase. Raymond Leone, physician for University Health Services, encouraged students to make smart decisions when they face tough situations over spring break.
“People want to get out of here, they want to relax,” Leone said. “They just have to use their head with everything – with drinking, with exposure to the sun and the elements and with any potential exposure. You don’t want to ruin everything you’ve been working for.”
For students who are driving during spring break, alcohol consumption can cause serious problems.
“With driving in a different area, we can’t make the assumption that the laws are the same or (directions) when you’re not familiar with those areas,” said health educator Sharon Briggs. “It’s confusing to begin with, and then you add in intoxication or even being under the influence, you may not then be thinking about the different traffic patterns.”
Scott Dotterer, coordinator of the Office of Student Health Promotion said it is important for students to plan ahead to prevent incidents.
“If somebody is going to be the designated driver, they have to recognize that means no drinking,” Dotterer said. “But it’s not a license for everybody else to get smashed because there is always risk of (accidents).”
Sophomore nursing major Mallory Conway said sticking together is important for friends at parties.
“Last year when I was in Florida, I did learn because I was with a small group of girls and we definitely looked out for each other,” Conway said. “There are some not so great people that are out there for the wrong reasons – just keep an eye on each other and have a good time, but be as safe as possible.”
Legal Problems Carol Crimi, senior staff attorney for Student Legal Services, said a student has limited options if they are arrested during spring break because of different laws and the length of spring break. Students would have to travel to where they were arrested and often are not represented by a lawyer.
Crimi said most students end up pleading guilty to avoid a trial and face consequences.
For students who want to expunge a misdemeanor charge, they have to go back to the jurisdiction they were arrested in.
Spring Break Kick-off Day
In an effort to promote safety over spring break, The Office of Student Health
Promotion will be handing out information to students in the Student Center
today from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Briggs said the purpose of the table, which will be on the second floor, is to help students be aware enough to plan ahead for spring break.
In the months of March and April more students had sexually transmitted disease screening tests at the DeWeese Health Center than any other months besides the months after summer break. While these tests do not represent STD-positive students, the numbers of tests reflects an increase in sexual activity compared to other months.
“Other than when a woman is coming in for her routine exam, (students) come in when they think they might have had an exposure or an unprotected incident,” Leone said. Similar to summer break, Leone said students have a lot of free time.
Joan Seidel, infection control coordinator at Robinson Memorial Hospital in Ravenna, said sexually transmitted diseases are common over spring break for a variety of reasons.
“It’s the combination of activities that there is a lot of people gathering at certain locations,” Seidel said. “People are having unplanned and unprotected sex, and by sex I mean it could be oral, anal or vaginal. Sometimes people think that they can’t get an STD if they only have oral sex, but it would be by any of those means.”
Leone said students need to be selective when they are choosing a partner for sex and to not let the expectation of having free time as a reason to have sex.
“Don’t let getting away and cutting loose and alcohol be the reason you make a silly decision,” Leone said. “We have a lot of people that come in and it’s like, ‘If I had this to do over again, I wouldn’t have done it this way; I would have at least used a condom, and as a matter of fact, as I think about it the next day, I probably wouldn’t have been into it with that person.'”
For students who want to be tested after spring break, Leone encourages students to visit the health center.
“Our goal is to always get people an appointment within 24 hours,” Leone said. “If somebody is worried about something we don’t want them to suffer.”
While students prepare to have fun in the sun, sophomore biochemistry major Marwa Ghumrawi knows about the dangers of too much exposure.
“My friend once went on spring break and came back with some skin cancer because she was in the sun for so long,” Ghumrawi said. The cancer was removed from Ghumrawi’s friend, but skin cancer is a significant problem.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, and melanoma, the most dangerous form, is common among young people.
Eliot Mostow, dermatologist at Akron Dermatology, said melanoma skin cancers usually don’t kill people and have a high cure rate if caught early, but isn’t always a concern of college students.
“For certain people, it’s hard to think about cancer down the line because to be honest, with … most teenagers and college students, it’s really hard to think about cancer,” Mostow said.
Mostow recommended that students should use sunscreen, wear hats and protective clothing, along with finding shade during certain hours of the day. For what he calls the shadow rule, Mostow said students should go inside if their shadow is shorter than their normal height.
Contact health reporter Nick Walton at [email protected]