AlcoholEdu raises awareness of underage drinking

Last semester, UNA implemented AlcoholEdu, an alcohol education program aimed at incoming freshmen. The program’s content focused on safety with and responsible use of alcohol, as well as consequences that can come from alcohol use. This includes the health risks associated with binge drinking and the legal repercussions of drinking under the age of 21.

Over the summer, the SOAR program, an introductory seminar for incoming UNA students, included an alcohol education session to introduce AlcoholEdu to those students who would go on to take part in the program.

The session began with a skit that the SOAR counselors, all currently enrolled UNA students, choreographed and performed themselves, with collaboration from the Health & Wellness Center.

The skit was a humorous, though realistic, view at the evolution of a party-starting with only a few people that grew to be many-all of whom were a variety of ages and making different decisions for themselves about alcohol.

After watching the characters make different choices and see different outcomes, the audience had an open discussion with the SOAR counselors, asking questions and entertaining a dialogue among their peers about what alcohol use on a college campus can look like.

“The purpose of AlcoholEdu is to assess where students are and then educate them about alcohol use,” said Tammy Jacques, director of Student Engagemen. She also oversees the SOAR program and serves on an ad hoc committee for AlcoholEdu.

Jacques explained that the program was not encouraging or discouraging students to drink, but making them aware of the consequences of alcohol.

“The skit came from our experiences from college, things we have seen or heard about,” said SOAR counselor Kaitlin Chappell. “We thought of all the parties we saw things at for our skit and tried to make it real-we had some people who were not drinking, others who were playing beer pong.”

According to counselors, some students responded well.

“As college students who are more like peers, we got some good questions, especially after the program,” said SOAR counselor Abril Agnew.

The student reactions to the skit were varied.

“Some freshmen took it as a joke, but others felt more prepared and took the information from it,” Chappell said.

The counselors emphasized that the information was important to everyone, because a student who might not drink may have associates who do.

“I know what to do if a friend has alcohol poisoning,” Agnew said of a situation that was also demonstrated in the SOAR skit.

“(The program) informed students of risks and consequences-then they can decide if it’s worth the risk or not,” said Sergeant Terry Parker of UNA police.