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Among the events for the Sobriety Weekend Challenge will be a hike to the Flatirons starting at 9:30 a.m. Sunday at Chautauqua Park.
CLIFF GRASSMICK
Among the events for the Sobriety Weekend Challenge will be a hike to the Flatirons starting at 9:30 a.m. Sunday at Chautauqua Park.

Want to know what’s going down?

Here’s the lineup for the Sobriety Weekend Challenge:

Thursday, 7 p.m., Hallett Hall: Mario Kart 64 video game tournament

Friday, 6:30 p.m., Muenzinger building: Meet for a screening of the movie “Food, Inc.”

Friday, 8 p.m., outside Aden Hall: Capture the Flag match

Saturday, 10:30 a.m., Eben G. Fine Park: Potluck picnic and activities

Sunday, 9:30 a.m., Chautauqua Park: Hike of the Flatirons

All weekend, starting at 5 p.m. Friday, the CU Recreation Center will offer free admission to the rock climbing wall and several classes, including sports conditioning, cycling, swimming and rugby.

For more information or to sign the pledge, visit the Sobriety Weekend Challenge Web site at colorado.edu/sacs/counseling/oasis/sobriety.html

A group of University of Colorado students has a challenge for their peers: Stay sober for 96 hours this weekend. That means no drinking or drugs for four days, from early this morning to late Sunday night.

It might be a tall order, but the students of Oasis, a recently formed group dedicated to sobriety, are hopeful their fellow Buffs will step up.

“I think there’s a challenge because of the perceived norms that are in place,” said Colleen Hackett, a 28-year-old Oasis member who is pursuing her master’s degree in sociology. “We talk about CU as a party school. We think about CU as a party school. That may not be the case. We want to dispel those myths and let people know that partying isn’t the norm for every single individual.”

This is the first year the group has organized a Sobriety Weekend Challenge. Organizers wanted to hold it in the fall and said they chose this weekend because there’s no football game scheduled.

“We planned it strategically so it wouldn’t fall on a football weekend, so folks who usually go to football games and drink can still participate in this because that’s not an option,” Hackett said.

Instead, Oasis is pointing students in the direction of alternate activities. The lineup includes a Mario Kart 64 video game tournament Thursday, a group viewing of the movie “Food, Inc.” on Friday, a picnic at Boulder’s Eben G. Fine Park on Saturday and a hike of the Flatirons on Sunday.

Oasis is also asking participants to sign an online pledge vowing to abstain from alcohol and illegal drugs for the entire weekend. The pledge form asks students their name, age, e-mail address and gender. It also asks how often they use alcohol or drugs, and why they want to stay sober.

Matthew Tomatz, the substance abuse program coordinator for CU’s Counseling and Psychological Services, said he hopes that signing the pledge will “create some meaning behind it” for the students promising to stay sober. About 50 students had signed as of Wednesday, he said.

“The goal is for students to explore their relationship to drinking and drugging and not use for a period of time and see what life is like,” said Tomatz, who acts as an adviser for Oasis.

CU officials estimate that 55 percent of students binge drink, said campus spokesman Bronson Hilliard. That’s on par, or slightly higher, than most major American state universities, he said.

“We acknowledge that at our institution, we do have a challenge in dealing with undergraduates and alcohol,” Hilliard said.

But, he said, it’s worth highlighting that not every student at CU drinks.

“There are many students who choose not to make alcohol a part of their lives here,” he said.

On campus Wednesday, several students hanging out in the University Memorial Center said they think getting students to sign up for a weekend of sobriety will be tough.

“I think it’s a good idea,” said CU junior AJ Koller, a 20-year-old engineering major. “But it’s going to be a big challenge.”

“Yeah, that’s vicious,” said Sam Ehrlich, a 20-year-old junior majoring in mathematics.

Junior Sara Dalton said she thinks a handful of students will likely participate. But, said 20-year-old Dalton, “I don’t think they’ll make the national news: ‘CU was sober for a weekend.'”

Even if hordes of students don’t take the pledge, Hackett said she’s hopeful the event will raise Oasis’ profile and let others know there are sober students on campus.

“As long as we get attention and awareness out there that our presence is known, that’s the most important thing,” she said.

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