MSMS promotes drug-free living through Red Ribbon Week


Courtesy of LaToya Bledsoe

Director for Student Affairs LeAnn Alexander, Director for Academic Affairs Clear Moore and Bledsoe wear red in support of a drug-free lifestyle.

Madison Echols, Staff Writer

Students sporting bright red ribbons inscribed with a pledge to live drug-free could be seen all around the MSMS campus during the week of Oct. 23-31, expressing the purpose for a week of festivities and educational opportunities. 

Red Ribbon Week is a drug, tobacco and alcohol awareness program where schools and organizations across the country wear red ribbons, participate in anti-drug events and pledge to live drug-free. MSMS’s Res-Life staff, Students Against Destructive Decisions and Spirit Squad saw the importance in drug and alcohol awareness and came together to organize events to educate MSMS students.

LaToya Bledsoe, Res-Life director and a member of the Golden Triangle Tobacco Free Coalition Board, said she feels the message of the week is even more relevant during the pandemic than in years past.

“The importance of Red Ribbon Week is the value in students making sound decisions and ones that won’t be detrimental to their health,” Bledsoe said. “We’ve also been in a pandemic for the last year and a half, which has a lot to do with rising stress levels, so making sure students are dealing with that stress in the correct manner is very important.”

SADD Co-President Vidhi Patel said Red Ribbon Week is especially important at MSMS and similar schools.

“I definitely feel that with the stressful environment of MSMS, it’s important to have an effective Red Ribbon Week,” Patel said. “Because we are away from our parents, it’s easy to turn to a substance instead of having a  conversation with someone or being with our family. So, from this week, I want students to think about their decisions and know the dangers of substances before they partake.”

Spirit Squad President Keynijah Sullivan said she feels MSMS is doing a successful job educating students in an enjoyable and informative way.

“I don’t remember even having a Red Ribbon Week at my old school,” Sullivan said. “But I’m really happy with how it’s going so far here. I’m thankful that we’re able to have exciting events each day, giveaways and prizes to give out to keep people engaged.”

Bledsoe said she is already coming up with plans in preparation for next year’s Red Ribbon Week in hopes the pandemic will have died down by then.

“Zoom and technology have been beneficial in a lot of ways, but hopefully we’d be able to do different things next year,” Bledsoe said. “For example, I’ve previously hosted seminars where I’ve brought people to campus to speak; it’d be great to do that again. We’ll also get different ideas from students on what they want to see, research those ideas, and see where SADD and Spirit Squad takes them.”