“Rethink the drink” educates students Reply

By Nicole Taylor –1851 Staff

The Peer Health Educators (PH) hosted National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week (NCAAW) on campus October 19 to the 23.

NCAAW is recognized during the third full week of October. According to NASPA.org, “Alcohol abuse and impaired driving represent a significant barrier to educational goals of higher education institutions.”

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 88,000 people (approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women) die from alcohol-related causes annually. In 2013, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for 10,076 deaths.

The PHE partnered with Counseling, Health Education, Athletics, Health Services, Spiritual and Religious Life, Student Activities, Disability Services, Student Conduct, and Residential Life to organize NCAAW on campus.

For each day of the week there was an event geared toward the slogan, “Rethink the Drink.”

“It was created to challenge students to rethink safe alcohol practices and encourage community support,” said Allie Whitcomb, PHE Advisor and counselor on campus.

On Monday, October 19, PHE’s hosted the Red Solo Cup activity, reflecting on how alcohol impacts lives. At this event, students had the opportunity to anonymously write on a paper cut shaped like a solo cup about how alcohol has affected their lives.

Some of the words written on the cups included: “It killed my friend,” “My dad is an alcoholic,” “It has made me gain weight.” The paper cut outs were taped to the wall in the dining hall stairwell to show other students the power of alcohol. The event was hosted again on Thursday, with Lasell’s mascot, Boomer, in attendance.

On Tuesday, in the Arnow Campus Center, the Drunk Driving Simulation took place. Students played Wii Mario Kart while wearing Fatal Vision Alcohol Impairment Simulation Goggles. The goggles come in different strength levels and are designed to allow a person to feel what it is like to be under the influence of alcohol with a sober mind. “This is so hard. I don’t understand how people do this,” said senior Tara Deggendorf.

Campus Police Officer Mike McKenney assisted in this event by performing mock sobriety tests and providing information to students about the dangers of drunk driving. “A lot of kids think it won’t happen to them, but once the blues flash behind them, it’s too late,” said McKenney.

On Wednesday, there was an Alcohol Screening session led by Counseling and Health Services outside of Valentine Dining Hall. The program is based on the materials from the National Depression Screening and Mental Health Alliance. The screening form used is called the AUDIT (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test). A standardized test designed especially for college students to look at binge drinking and high-risk drinking behaviors from a health and mental health standpoint.

A total of 76 students attended the screening and talked to Director of Counseling, Janice Fletcher along with other health professionals.

Fletcher said, “Students are encouraged to seek further confidential help from a doctor, nurse, or counselor if the score is high.” The test is anonymous and assess drinking patterns. Students are advised to think about making healthy changes if the score is 8 or higher.

Title IX Coordinator Jennifer O’Keeffe coordinated an event with George McEvoy, an AA speaker, also on Wednesday.

On Friday, the PHE’s held a movie night. Educators raffled off prizes throughout the week donated by the bookstore, Admissions, and Disability Services/Student Conduct.

Whitcomb, Campus Police, PHE, and Fletcher all thought it was a successful week. “Change can be hard but taking an honest look at a high score and one’s own behaviors can start that process of change,” said Fletcher.

Students also found it to be an impactful week. “The fact that we had so many students participate, particularly with the alcohol screenings done by the health center, was incredible,” said junior Haleigh West, a PHE.

Over 200 students participated and were engaged in conversation at events throughout the week. PHE senior Sarah Murphy said, “We had a really great outcome this year and every year it is getting bigger which is great to know.”

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