Dwight Jenkins speaks at the press conference
Dwight Jenkins of the Department of Motor Vehicles discusses Buzzkill at the Sept. 2 press conference. Photo courtesy of Norfolk State University

Tidewater Community College joined Norfolk State University, Hampton University and Christopher Newport University Sept. 2 for the launch of 2016 Virginia Buzzkill, a joint law enforcement agency awareness campaign to deter underage drinking.

Another goal of the campaign is to educate everyone about the consequences of providing alcohol to underage individuals. 

Norfolk State Police, along with law enforcement personnel from TCC, Christopher Newport, Hampton and TCC were on hand for a press conference in advance of the college football and tailgating seasons at many higher education institutions in the area.

“It’s very important for students under the age of 21 to refrain from using alcohol because it has serious consequences that could negatively impact their pursuit of an education,” said Norfolk State University Police Chief Troy Covington. “We are providing them with the right information so they can make good decisions.”

George Okaty, TCC’s director of Safety and Security, noted that, although TCC students don’t live on a campus and most are over 21, an awareness campaign like Buzzkill is still valuable. “Our students interact with their friends at other colleges in the area, and we want a consistent message between institutions to keep students safe wherever they are,” he said.

Ronald L. Gray, TCC’s student affairs coordinator, noted that TCC has policies regarding alcohol and drug use by students, and that expectations are spelled out in the Student Handbook.

“If a student violates our policy and is expelled or suspended from the college, they would lose financial aid and scholarships because they are no longer attending,” he said.

Other severe consequences could include arrest, court fines and other penalties.

The awareness campaign will include social media posts, radio spots and signage to provide the public with information about underage alcohol use. The hashtag for the campus initiative is #PARTYSAFEVA.

Virginia Buzzkill is a Virginia Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administration campaign funded by a Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles highway safety grant.

For more information, visit smartsafeandsober.org.