Freshmen take AlcoholEdu

Aug 172005
Authors: Nicole Barrett, Jon Pilsner

About this time last year, nine vibrant CSU students were preparing to embarking on school year and everything that it brought. They never got that far.

One young woman was found dead in a closet in a fraternity house. One young man was found dead on a couch just off the campus. Seven others would be kicked out of school for their participation in riots before the fall semester even started.

It was all fueled by beer and booze.

In wake of these tragedies last year, the CSU administration is mandating all freshmen to participate in an online alcohol education class.

The electronic course, called AlcoholEdu, is geared toward informing students about alcohol and alcohol safety measures.

"Our society is one that allows moderate social drinking," said CSU President Larry Penley in a press conference on May 25 of this year. "I wan to make sure you understand these actions are taken with an emphasis on the highest priority of promoting a safe environment for our students, our facility, for our staff, for our friends and alumni, and those who are a part of this Colorado State University community."

Last year, CSU sophomore Samantha Spady and freshmen Bennett Bertoli both died in alcohol poisoning related incidents.

The class is a research based, non-opinionated, confidential program, meaning the class will not judge the students behavior or inform administration of illegal behavior, said Pam McCracken, director of Alcohol Education and Prevention. It focuses on education, and drinking responsibly.

A Collegian report sat through the course, which took her a half an hour to complete. She said the the class included:

– Alcohol laws of every state in the U.S.,

– A case study following a group of friends as they go out on a night of drinking,

– Tips on how to limit your own drinking.

– And tips on how to care for a person who may be suffering from alcohol poisoning.

The class focuses on being responsible regarding choices made with alcohol. Only freshmen and their parents can access the class.

"If you have more information you can make better choices," McCracken said. "Our hope is that students will make better choices with alcohol as a result of this course."

Courtney Healey, president of Associated Students of CSU said the information provided by the class is helpful to making students safe.

"It is not geared to the legality (of drinking) as much as responsible behavior," Healey said. (CQ)-kdcmes

The class alsp discusses Blood Alcohol Content, the effects of alcohol on the brain and academics, gender differences, safety and drinking and driving, McCracken said.

Residence Assistants were required to take the class as well so they can promote the information presented.

Rico Pacheco , a RA in Braiden Hall and junior health and exercise science major said, "AlcoholEdu was a very educational and fundamentally sound program."

CSU Police Department also wants to educate the students.

"Most alcohol problems come from a lack of education," said Yvonne Paez, public information officer for CSUPD. "Education is the most important thing."

The goal is to give freshman a realistic portrayal of the college atmosphere.

"Before freshmen set foot on campus they create a mythological environment," said Anne Hudgens, executive director of Campus Life. "Freshman expect more drinking than there actually is."

The transition freshmen make to college is difficult and the class might help ease that transition.

"Our deepest desire is to help students be successful in their transition to college," Hudgens said.

AlcoholEdu and similar programs are used successfully across the nation.

" Data shows that individual awareness decreases the consumption rate significantly," said Ernie Chavez, chair of the psychology department.

The administration of University of Colorado-Boulder implemented the program for their freshmen last year.

Robert Maust, chairman of CU-Boulder's Standing Committee On Substance Abuse, said the program was an experiment to educate students about alcohol.

"The program gave (students) a baseline of awareness," Maust said.

CU-Boulder chose not to continue the program this year but have not completely ruled it out.

"We may go back to AlcoholEdu in the future," Maust said.

Some CSU students are unsure of the program's worth.

"I definitely think the class is stupid," said Callie Bohlen, freshman pre-music major (CQ)-kdcmes. "People should know how to control their liquor."

Despite the different opinions people may express the class is an important aspect of CSU's commitment to the safety of students as a indirect result of the Alcohol Task Force's recommendation to provide education about alcohol and aim to prevent further student deaths, McCracken said.

The Alcohol Task Force began last fall when CSU President Larry Penley wanted to work with the community to insure that students are safe in regards to alcohol consumption.

"We think AlcoholEdu will definitely be good for the students," Healey said

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