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Members of Save An Innocent Life were in MacHall Wednesday promoting the new club.
Kaye Coholan/the Gauntlet

Drunk-driving awareness club now on campus

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On Jan. 19 2012, the Students' Union sanctioned a new club, Save An Innocent Life. Its purpose is to raise awareness about the consequences of drinking and driving.

Second-year business student and founder of SAIL Faryal Shah described the tragedy that prompted the initiative.

University of Calgary second-year business student Arsh Brar was killed Jan. 8 in a drunk driving accident.

"We could either sit as a group and cry, or stand up as a group and do something about it," said Shah.

Three days after the accident, Shah had the club constitution written up. The next day, she handed in the forms to the SU. SAIL was sanctioned a week later.

"It was the toughest week of my life and my first encounter with death," said Shah. "We had all these plans. We were going textbook shopping the next day. We even celebrated his twentieth birthday four days earlier. This is something you don't expect."

The club hopes their actions will keep Brar's memory alive.

"Things like these change your life. This club will be a part of his memory. It's a way we can keep Arsh alive in our hearts," said first-year international relations student Eddie Khan.

Shah, however, viewed the sanction with mixed feelings.

"While this club is a way to turn that negative experience into a positive action, it made me sad to hear that there is no drunk-driving awareness club on campus before we sanctioned it," she said. "It shocked me. There shouldn't have to be a big loss before an initiative is taken."

Khan said university students may not be aware that there is the potential to commit a crime while drinking.

"[Drinkers] don't realize that they might potentially commit a crime. The girl who killed Brar -- I don't think she's an entirely bad person. She just made a bad decision. She wouldn't have thought of killing two people that night," Khan said.

Shah added that mistakes like these can be avoided. Brar may be the reason behind SAIL, but so was the driver. She hopes the benefits of the club will affect both parties.

"What we're doing is a two-way thing. We don't want people to be hurt by the death of someone, nor do we want someone else to get hurt because they caused it. The perpetrators are also victims in a sense," remarked Shah.

Within the first two nights of SAIL's launch, 100 students expressed interest in joining the club.

"People are our power right now," explained Shah. "If we don't have members, we wouldn't be doing anything."

Recently, Shah has been organizing group meetings to brainstorm ideas on how SAIL should progress and reach out from campus to the public. A dinner is tentatively set to take place during the first week of March, marking the official launch of SAIL and to commemorate Arsh Brar.

Shah said that the Brar family and the directorial board of Mothers Against Drunk Driving will be in attendance.

"There are big things coming," said Shah. "We plan on selling ribbons and setting up donation boxes all around campus and in MacHall."

Proceeds from the fundraiser will go to MADD. SAIL will also be starting a poster campaign to raise awareness.

"We don't want it to just stop at this university. Once this hits off, we want to go to Mount Royal, SAIT, high schools and other campuses."

For now, the main goal is getting the positive message out to the public.

"If we talked to 100 people, and only two people change for the better, we might have saved two lives," said Khan.

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