VITALS offers ‘Root Beer Flip Cup’ event

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VITALS is back and in full force.

VITALS, a campaign run by associate professor Amiso George’s strategic communication campaign class, aims to educate TCU students on the symptoms of alcohol poisoning and how to handle alcohol poisoning according to the campaign’s website. The campaign’s next event, called the ‘Root Beer Flip Cup’ will take place on campus today.

VITALS stands for vomiting, incoherence, temperature, absence of color, low breathing and seizure — all symptoms of alcohol poisoning. The campaign has aimed to teach people to recognize these symptoms and ask for help when they suspect alcohol poisoning, senior strategic communication major Allison Branca said. 

The campaign planned to organize two large events and several smaller events this semester. The most recent event, the TCU VITALS Baseball tailgate, took place Sunday.
The campaign involves two teams working toward the same goal, Branca co-CEO of the campaign, said.

VITALS held its first event of the semester, Thirsty Thursdays, Feb. 10 in front of the Mary Couts Burnett Library. The event included root beer pong and root beer flip cup.

“We want to make sure people don’t just see the logo, VITALS, and don’t just think, ‘Oh my heartbeat or checking my vital signs,’” Branca said. “We want to emphasize what it actually means and that this is a severe thing.”

Members of the TCU Police Department were present at one of the events last November, Sgt. Alvin Allcon of special events and training for TCU
Police said.

TCU Police officers answered students’ questions at the event, Allcon said. He said the questions were more about TCU’s amnesty program than alcohol

“If you have a friend that you’re worried about that’s intoxicated and you call for help even though you might have been drinking or underage or violating a campus rule, that won’t go against your record here,” Allcon said.

George said the peer-educated campaign sought to continue education past the students’ time at TCU, though.

“This is a campaign for students by students, and here we are on the TCU campus thinking this is just our little thing in our TCU community,” George said. “But, it’s gone beyond our campus, so we are back.”

Branca said students may be scared to ask for help if they encountered alcohol poisoning because they might be underage or intoxicated. She said they do not realize that not getting help could end someone’s life.

“One of our first ideas is we’re not trying to tell students, ‘You can’t drink,’ because obviously that’s not going to work,” Branca said. “So we’re coming at it as a perspective of we’re peers with them, and we want them to know that it is OK to ask for help. I wouldn’t want my friends to not help me if I had any of the VITALS signs.”

During its kickoff event last November, VITALS was covered by Fox and received phone calls, letters and emails from around the country, George said.

“One very poignant case of a woman’s future son-in-law who had [alcohol poisoning] and maybe didn’t realize that he was drunk and had alcohol poising. And he got behind the wheel and unfortunately he died,” George said. “For us that is very profound that our story, a campaign by TCU students for TCU students, can have an impact.”

The Texas Young Lawyers Association and students at University of Texas at Arlington contacted VITALS members to expand the campaign further. 

“For us, this should be a lifelong, continuous campaign, not just something that ends at the end of the semester,” George said.

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