By Malcolm Embree

The Safer Ottawa Drinking Alliance, an organization that started at Algonquin and which has spread to other campuses in Ottawa, has gained funding to expand provincially. The organization was created to help students drink responsibly.

SODA is an organization on the Carleton University, La Cité, University of Ottawa and Algonquin college campuses. It was started in January of last year to help students be more aware of the practices of safe drinking. SODA is a combined effort by a number of organizations including MADD, the OPP and Ottawa Public Health.

SODA started last January on campus and stemmed from a community project some nursing students did in the fall of 2012. SODA meets monthly and focuses on raising awareness for drinking responsibly.

“A lot of students enter college thinking it’s going to be a party,” Said Sandra McCormick, healths services manager. SODA encourages eating during the consumption of alcohol and other tactics to help keep students safe.

“The Pleasure Zone” is a table SODA sets up to raise awareness about how much alcohol students are actually consuming for example, this March during Theo Fleury’s lecture at the college about his struggle with addiction. The table is set up like a bar with clear liquids. The table attendants asked students to show, using the water, how much alcohol they usually consume. McCormick says many students are unaware of how much alcohol they are actually ingesting.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario has given funding for SODA to spread to other colleges around Ontario. McCormick said that SODA has already started discussions with other colleges that have similar initiatives. SODA has even been invited to a conference in Toronto to discuss their efforts.