Fresno State’s commencement season is underway with graduation events unfolding this week. Once again university officials remind students to celebrate responsibly and in moderation – and use designated drivers.

Fresno State is backing up its concern with the College is RADD program — “Recording Artists, Actors and Athletes against Drunk Driving” — which was launched in the fall in partnership with local establishments.  Students, family and friends are encouraged to use designated drivers when celebrating the University’s 104th Commencement Ceremony Saturday, May 16 and earn rewards for doing so.

It begins at 9 a.m. in the Save Mart Center after another 23 events that are planned Friday, May 15. Five other events will also be on Saturday after the main graduation event concluding with one on Sunday, May 17.

Part of a nationwide campaign, the Fresno RADD project began in October with three partners but for commencement has expanded to include six bars and restaurants:

“With graduation season approaching we want Fresno State students to have fun, to celebrate with their friends and family but also to party safely,” said Maria Shaffer, director of the Student Health and Counseling Center that oversees the new alcohol awareness campaign in conjunction with the university’s Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs Safety Council.

Program director Georgianna Negron-Long, a health educator for the health center, said studies show that Fresno State students regularly practice safe drinking.

“Students pace their drinks to one per hour, alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks like water, eat while drinking, avoid drinking games and designate a driver or use a driver service,” Negron-Long said. “Many of our students do practice safe drinking and we want to encourage everybody in Fresno to do the same

The survey, the National College Health Assessment, is conducted every other year with a group of randomly selected students. The most recent was conducted this semester.

“This survey allows us to get to know students’ habits, behaviors and perceptions on the most prevalent health topics,” Negron-Long said. “Each time our data shows that Fresno State students practice safe drinking at consistently high numbers and many times our rates are lower than the national stats.”

But even one student engaging unsafe practices is one too many, she added, so the RADD program provides another practical proactive measure.

Established in 2009, RADD is a California College DUI Awareness Project conducted in partnership with UC Irvine’s Health Education Center and funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Through the program, participating bars and restaurants reward Fresno State students serving as the designated driver by providing them free non-alcoholic drinks or appetizers/desserts.  Students can find a RADD partner from the list on the Fresno State health center website at At the bar, they present themselves as the Designated Driver to find out what the RADD reward is there.

The program is also available for students traveling outside the Fresno Area. The full list of California RADD partners is at (or by city at

For more information, contact Long at 559.278.6712 or the Student Health and Counseling Center social media sites via

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