Mon. Aug 15th, 2022

On Saturday, March 1, the Off Campus and Commuter Association distributed pretzels to the WCU community to promote safety and well-being awareness. As students go through college and attend campus parties, they are confronted with responsibility issues and how to be safe when consuming alcohol. An initiative such as the OCCA Pretzel Service Project is one answer that students can find here at WCU.

According to OCCA president Anthony DiJiacomo, there are several goals that the group aims at through its pretzel service project.

“The project goals are to spread out the effects of the alcohol by giving party-goers a bread substance to help absorb the alcohol,” DiJiacomo stated in an email. Additionally he said, the food will make a party-goer less likely to be loud as they are walking the streets because they are chewing. Residents of the West Chester borough can then appreciate the result in the streets of a quieter college town.

DiJiacomo stated that it is important to note that party-goers refers to students and non-students equally, as well as those who are 21 and those who are not.

Another goal of the pretzel service project, according the DiJiacomo, is to “have peers telling the party-goers to be safe.” As people sometimes feel pressured by peers into doing self-destructive acts, this objective turns that idea around by promoting responsible acts.

The project also aims at a goal to “demonstrate publicly to the borough that WCU students care and seek to make a difference in the community,” DiJiacomo said.

According to DiJiacomo, the goals reached by this particular project last semester were visible to the OCCA members in three different ways.

“First, many party-goers were extremely thankful for the substance,” DiJiacomo said. “In many cases, we saw people getting the pretzels and giving them to highly intoxicated friends to help them walk home.”

DiJiacomo also stated that the project has received both donations and attention from a newspaper in the local area.

“The South West Association of Neighbors (SWAN), a West Chester association, gave the OCCA $100 to continue this project.” DiJiacomo said, adding that the SWAN members believed that promoting safety and well-being through the pretzel service project made a difference.

“Third, the Daily Local News had a front page article recognizing the project,” DiJiacomo said. With the recognition by local media, such an awareness project could spread out further to curb affects of alcohol at other colleges nearby.

The pretzel service project, according to DiJiacomo, will be held again during the current semester on April 11.

“We will be continuing every initiative that we began last semester,” DiJiacomo said. “But to reach beyond our goals, the OCCA is running new programs.”

This Wednesday at 4:30, a nationally recognized trainer will be holding a seminar called Personal Safety and Awareness Interactive, according to DiJiacomo. The seminar will be located on the first floor of the Sykes Student Union building in Ballroom B.

“This is because of all the safety related incidents that have been occurring,” DiJiacomo said. “In addition, on April 7, we are sponsoring a blood drive in the ballrooms.” DiJiacomo added that there will be other campus-wide programming and events as well.

According to DiJiacomo, through attending the projects, students sign a contract promising to be sober while at the project.

“This enables students to witness downtown West Chester from 1 a.m. until 2 a.m. with sober eyes,” DiJiacomo said. “Many students state that they have never realized how loud and obnoxious party-goers are and keep this in mind in the future.”

Although not stated among the project’s goals, another outcome is that extra hour to take in and appreciate the town itself. The sober student would be less likely to endanger themselves, others, or disturb the peace in some manner. Such a student may also find a new local interest that they would otherwise overlook while under the influence. He or she may find out that they have an interest in preserving some aspect of the town, giving back to it through sobriety.

According to the OCCA home page, the pretzel service project promoting safety and well-being is not the only cause that the OCCA is involved in. The members of OCCA also collect teddy bears for hospitalized children and work on clean-up projects of a designated block within the West Chester borough.

If interested in joining the OCCA, students can attend the group’s general meetings on Wednesdays at 12 p.m.. The meetings, according to the OCCA home page, provide a way to for commuter students to address their campus concerns. Students can also get free lunches provided to them by the OCCA on certain dates, according the OCCA home page, cutting down meal expenses.

For more information, students should visit www.occawcu.com or stop by the OCCA office, located in room 219 at the Sykes Student Union building. Students can also keep track of upcoming events hosted by the OCCA via the popular social networking site Facebook.

Carol Dwyer is a third-year student majoring in English and communication studies. She can be reached at cd660170@wcupa.edu.

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