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Knights fight drinking dangers

Risa Johnson

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Attendees to enjoy the food provided by the Knights of the Knight on Thursday at Sylvester’s Cafe by the Creek.  Photo credit: Chris Ng

More Chico State students are standing up and saying enough is enough when it comes to alcohol-related deaths in the community.

The Knights of the Night, a group of about 30 students in professor Gina Tigri’s leadership class, are promoting a safe drinking culture at Chico State. Their weapon of choice? Social media.

The group held a launch party for their mobile application Thursday at Selvester’s Cafe-by-the-Creek  offering raffle prizes, free food, tear-jerking speeches and pictures shared by former Chico State student Brandon Fisher and his mother, Juline Hobbs.

Last December, Fisher went into a coma after being hit by a drunk driver while walking across the street.

At the launch event, Hobbs shared the video of the accident, caught by the nearby Valero gas station’s security footage.

Fisher is on the road to recovery, but he still is suffering from traumatic brain injuries.

That night, Fisher was walking home alone intoxicated and his cellphone was dead, Hobbs said. His parents didn’t get the call about his admittance to the hospital until three hours after the accident.

Fisher didn’t think he was going to be able to stay alive for three hours until his parents could get to the hospital, Hobbs said.

Hobbs is grateful that a group of students, Knights of the Night, has taken on the responsibility of looking out for one another. Hobbs said Brandon, will be returning to Chico State in January to finish his classes and receive his college diploma.

The student group is taking a proactive, rather than preventative, approach to the drinking culture problem that exists in Chico.

“We recognize that people on college campuses are going to drink,” said Mark Rossiter, a senior communications major. “However, we’re trying to promote safe habits while drinking.”

Rossiter is the marketing director for Knights of the Night, and has been promoting the group through tabling, working on social media applications, getting sponsors and selling shirts, he said.

“It started as a class project, but now it is more than that,” Rossiter said. “We can actually affect our peers.”

The app has a list of taxi cab services, along with a Google map that helps students orient themselves at night. It also has a link to the group’s Facebook page, where they hope to build a network of students and community members who are interested in preventing alcohol-related injuries.

The group is trying to point Chico’s culture in a positive direction, said Stephen Graydon, a senior organizational communications major and project manager for the group.

“The culture in Chico is choking itself,” Graydon said. “The elephant’s in the room and no one knows how to train it.”

Up to 1,000 students can currently download the app for free, and Graydon hopes 5,000 students will download the app. This would be the “tipping point,” he said.

“We’re learning about what actually creates change, like using marketing tools to make something go viral,” he said.

The app is an important resource because it is very functional, said David Kingsbury, a senior organizational communication major.

Kingsbury was in charge of developing the app.

“You’re having a rough night and need to get home safe,” Kingsbury said. “What’s going to be more helpful than an app on your phone?”

The project was submitted to a competition called 4Emily, which challenges students to use social media to solve the problem of college-aged alcohol-related deaths, Crane said. The top prize is $2,500.

4Emily was created by a father after his 19-year-old daughter died in an alcohol-related car crash.

The group would like to see the project live on after their class ends in the fall.

Graydon is writing a proposal for the university to take over the project after the semester.

 

Risa Johnson can be reached at [email protected] or @risapisa on Twitter.

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Knights fight drinking dangers