MANKATO — Chelsea Cortez flew out the front door of a frat house on South Fourth Street Thursday night and leaned over the porch railing, appearing to expel the contents of her stomach into the grass.
“You're going to get us in trouble,” one of her friends groused.
From the front steps someone yells over to Cortez. “Come on, keep it classy,” she said. “This is my house.” This from the same girl handing out red Solo cups to the hundreds of Minnesota State University students coming up her front steps.
“Everybody needs a cup,” she says. “You can't go to a party without a cup.”
But upon closer inspection of every single cup in the house, there isn't a drop of alcohol in the place. Not even from the loud group of a dozen students pretending to play a drinking game called Categories in the living room of Phi Delta Theta House.
“If you say 'um' you have to stand up and do a dance — a chicken dance!” said Sharissa Williams before pretending to take a drink.
Every group of students and MSU staff in the house were pretending to drink or do drugs as part of MSU Student Health Services' educational event called “House Party.” The 11th annual event aimed to teach students — who were bused in by the dozens from the university — the dangers of high-risk drinking.
“It's to help them make better choices,” said coordinator Katelyn Anderson, graduate assistant in Student Health Services. “It's also an unusual chance to see it from a sober perspective.”
About 100 students volunteered to take part in the event. Anderson said organizers had to start turning students away because they had so many volunteers to act out scenes that students might encounter at a real house party.
The students that took the tour were given statistical information about the prevalence of high-risk behaviors and were educated on how they can better keep themselves and their friends safe if they do choose to drink.
Numerous MSU departments and programs participated in the event. The Mankato Department of Public Safety also assisted and several police officers were on site to answer questions.