Students escape to gain alcohol awareness

From left to right: Bailey Watson, Seth Packer, John Folau, and Levi Purdy figuring out the cup code.

Four students crowd around a locked chest holding a small key. Half an hour of puzzle solving and mental math has led to this moment: the selection of one mysterious key out of many others.

“You only get one shot,” warns Lisa Latronica, one of the event coordinators of the escape room. The students nod, turn the key, and the chest swings open, marking their escape to victory.

Meant to teach alcohol awareness to teams of two to five students at a time, the escape room incorporates the narrative of a college student, drunk the night before. In the story, the student ultimately chooses not to drink and drive and wakes up safe and sound the next morning, searching for their car keys.

“The idea was that it would be like a fun educational opportunity for students to learn a little bit about alcohol use,” said Amy Cross, Diversity and Prevention Coordinator with the Nanook Diversity and Action Center. “Some of the puzzles have to do with standard drink sizes, and then with the narrative about if you do choose to drink, maybe some responsible choices to make.”

Students’ responses to the experience have varied.

“Now I know the size of drinks”, said Jordan Bennett.

A fellow student on Bennett’s escape room team disagreed about the educational merits of the event.

Regarding drink sizes, Erik Andersen said, “From this experience, probably not. I did that AlcoholEDU thing, though. That was pretty informative.”

From left to right: Levi Purdy and Bailey Watson sort several red Solo cups to spell out a hidden message.

Although the students disagreed on the learning aspect of the escape room, they agreed on their enjoyment of the experience.

“It was some good ol’ wholesome fun,” said Bennett.

The escape room was a popular activity for students during the five days it was scheduled, October 16-20. The rooms were overbooked, and staff had to create a waitlist to meet student demand to get in, according to Cross.

“I think the event is super competitive,” Latronica said. “They’re definitely checking back in to see like ‘okay is my time still the best one’ and every day we’ve had a new best time.”

From left to right: students Bailey Watson, John Folau, and Levi Purdy attempt to solve a cipher on the whiteboard.

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