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The Backpack

A news source for parents and families of NAU students


A publication of NAU Parents’ Association

Vol. 5 No. 25 | March 6, 2009

Play It Safe: Spring Break 2009

Keeping Your Student Safe During Spring Break

It’s spring break season again and I’m remembering all the crazy times growing up in a ‘vacation destination’ where students migrated for the school break. I remember the crowds of people and some of the crazy antics. Is your son or daughter planning any big events at home or traveling for spring break this year? If you’re like me, you may think, “I hope he/she plays it safe…” Regardless of whether your student is vacationing with friends abroad or spending time around home, he/she will be at greater risk—especially first-year college students—according to research published by the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Spring break is a prime time for students to begin smoking (including drug use), drinking, and other risky behavior. Women are often more vulnerable than men, but no one is invincible, especially with spring break peer pressure. Before your student embarks on his/her adventure, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Create a communications plan. Have your student tell someone his/her plans: who, when, where, how long. Make sure cell phones are charged and numbers are exchanged (be sure to collect friends’ numbers too). Will there be cell phone coverage where your student will be on break? It’s a good idea to get hotel and resort contact information too. Make plans to have a regular “check-in” time when you and your student can call and talk.

  2. Stay with the group. There’s safety in numbers and it’s a good idea to recommend your student stick to the buddy system at all times. If your student will be traveling outside the U.S., recommend that he/she register with the State Department. The embassy can then locate and contact you in the event of an emergency.

    Note: The U.S. Department of State has posted a travel alert regarding travel to Mexico in response to the increased violence in that area. Northern Arizona University is discouraging travel to Mexico during spring break in light of this announcement. If your student is traveling in Mexico, I recommend you review the State Department’s informative “Know Before You Go” website and the International Travel Tips from the Fronske Health Center.

  3. Beware of substance abuse. Drugs and alcohol can be easily available in spring break hot spots. Alcohol abuse is much higher during spring break. Review the signs of alcohol poisoning, which includes slow breathing; cold, clammy, pale, or bluish skin; and semi-consciousness. It’s always good wisdom to never accept drinks from strangers or leave drinks unattended.

—Derek Hansen
Enrollment Management and Student Affairs

Events and Happenings

Green Building Lecture

Thursday, March 12 at 5:30 p.m., at Coconino Community College Lone Tree Campus.

Alan Francis is presenting a lecture on cutting-edge sustainable building technologies that can improve energy efficiency at home. This is a great opportunity for your student to find out ways to cut costs and help build a more sustainable community. In lieu of an admission fee, participants are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item that will be donated to the St. Mary’s Food Bank.

More information can be obtained from Holly Jaleski,, 928-289-7920.

Lunafest Film Festival

Lunafest Film Festival

Films by, for, and about women.

Saturday, March 28 at the Orpheum Theater, 15 W. Aspen, Flagstaff, Arizona. The matinee begins at 2 p.m. for $5.

For more information visit or, or contact

NAZ Bookfest Pre-Festival Event

Saturday, March 7 at 7 p.m.

Writer, poets, and musicians will come together to read selected works from participating authors for the 12th annual Northern Arizona Book Festival. Readings by Angela Cooper, Jill Divine, James Jay, Doug McGlothlin, and Seth Muller. Music by Matt Hall, Alyson Jay, Tony Norris, and many more.

Location: Coconino Center for the Arts,
2300 N. Fort Valley Rd., Flagstaff, Arizona

Admission: $5 (All proceeds benefit charitable organizations and literacy efforts in Northern Arizona)



Important Dates


Housing reapplication

Mar 13

Last day to drop with a “W”

Mar 16–20

Spring break

Mar 23

Early enrollment for Fall ‘09 begins for continuing students


Summer session enrollment continues

Apr 24

Undergrad graduation application deadline for Fall ‘09 commencement

May 1

Instruction ends

May 4–7

Final exams

May 8

Residence halls close for spring semester

May 8–9


College of Arts and Letters
Events Highlights

All events are free unless noted. For more events and information visit Sign up for a weekly e-mail reminder at


Films are shown at the Cline Assembly Hall at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted.

Mar 10

White Heat (1949)

Starring James Cagney,
Virginia Mayo, Steve Cochran,
and Margaret Wycherley

Mar 12

Yada, Yada (2002),
Share the Wealth (2006), and
Gene Boy Come Home (2002)
Part of the Native American Film Series, celebrating indigenous film makers.


Apr 6

Tianshu Wang, piano
Ashurst Auditorium, 7:30 p.m.


Mar 6, 7

The Importance of Being Earnest
by Oscar Wilde
Clifford E. White Theatre
Curtain: 8 p.m.
Tickets available at 928-523-5661


Mar 26

2009 School of Art Faculty Exhibit
NAU Art Museum

Student Health Tip

College Students and Prescription Drug Abuse

Students get caught for underage drinking and for smoking marijuana, but rarely do students get caught abusing prescription drugs. Why? According to the website, Next Path, “Prescription drugs are often easy to obtain from friends and family—either simply by asking or by stealing, unnoticed, from a medicine cabinet—and from medical professionals, usually by lying about symptoms…or going to a doctor they never visited before without seeming suspicious or raising any questions.”

How prevalent is the abuse of prescription drugs among college students? It is hard to get accurate numbers because the abuse is often episodic (in the case of abusing Adderall or Ritalin to study or prep for exams) and often hard to detect, unless it becomes a chronic problem. A 2002 University of Wisconsin study concluded that as many as one in five college students used Ritalin or Adderall illegally.

Many students do not equate periodic use of prescription drugs with breaking the law. Many do not seek out the drugs from doctors but get pills from friends or roommates. So, what is a parent to do?

  1. Don’t give your student any of your own prescription medications.

  2. Make sure your medications are kept in safe, locked containers.

  3. Talk with your student about concerns regarding prescription medication use and ask to share his/her experiences or the experiences of others

Many students believe prescription medicines are “safer” than street drugs. It is time we changed that perception.

—Melody Hicks, MC, LPC
Counseling and Testing Center

Student Spotlight

Shane Johannsen

Name: Shane Johannsen
Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona
Sport: Men's Basketball
Class: Sophomore

Sophomore Shane Johannsen leads all Division I players in field goal percentage at 72.9 percent entering the week (, the top figure in the Big Sky Conference. He has connected on 52-of-61 attempts from the field in league play for a conference-best 85.2 percent.


Local Flagstaff events NAU Choral Studies: Shrine of the Ages Tour NAU events this week

The Parents’ Association BackPack electronic newsletter is published weekly by the NAU Parents’ Association for parents and families of Northern Arizona University students. Please direct questions or comments to You can support the Parents’ Association by visiting our website.