Aug 192007
 
Authors: Aaron Hedge

CSU is stepping up its alcohol awareness programs for incoming freshmen using money from a recent federal grant.

Pairing with TEAM Fort Collins, a community outreach program focused on preventing substance abuse, university departments are using money from a $260,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to collect and present data that will dispel the misconception among freshmen that most college students drink regularly.

Director of CSU’s Outreach and Prevention Program, Pam McCracken, said that this alcohol-free state of mind must be established early in the year.

“We know that the first six weeks is crucial in a student’s transition, and we really want to promote and empower those students who choose not to use,” McCracken said.

CSU’s Department of Sociology and the University Counseling Center will provide data to incoming students through press releases and by promoting at college events.

The university’s Department of Drug and Alcohol Education and Prevention will sponsor Live Safe 101, a weekly session that will focus on society’s influence on substance abuse.

The belief among freshmen that most college students drink four to five times a week is not true, said University Counseling Center Director Michael Daine.

“Many of their peers are not drinking as much or at all,” he said.

In fact, only one in five of all college students binge drink regularly, according to www.intheknowzone.com, a research-based organization that aims to increase alcohol awareness among youth and college-age people.

Providing this information to freshmen, Daine said, will create a mindset among freshmen that they don’t have to drink to fit in.

The effect is expected to snowball and create even stronger data in the future supporting the idea that not all college students drink regularly.

Former state representative Angie Paccione sponsored a bill in 2005 in response to CSU student Samantha Spady’s death from alcohol poisoning at a party at the Sigma Pi fraternity house in 2004. The fraternity has since disbanded.

The bill included a “safe haven” clause, making it so people can call 911 to report alcohol poisoning without fear of legal ramifications, even if they were engaging in illegal activity at the time of the incident.

Paccione said CSU is taking great strides to prevent alcohol-related deaths at CSU.

“CSU is a model institution across the country for the way it handles addiction,” Paccione said.

The grant, Paccione said, will further strengthen CSU’s awareness programs.

Some freshmen report that CSU’s current alcohol education at orientation is very useful.

“I feel confident in the programs,” said forestry major Sam Shumann of Monument. “I feel like I know what’s going on.”

Some students, however, seem to let the programs slip by.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” said David Sorensen, a political science major from Glen Rock, NJ., when asked if he had attended an alcohol education session at orientation.

Staff writer Aaron Hedge can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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