Counseling Center partners with Residence Life for Alcohol Awareness Week
By Daria Sokolova
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, more than 150,000 students develop an alcohol-related health problem, and between 1.2 and 1.5 percent of students indicate that they tried to commit suicide within the past year due to drinking or drug use.
This year’s Alcohol Awareness Week, titled Don’t Misuse the Booze, was organized by the Counseling Center in conjunction with Residence Life and took place Oct. 18–31.
“We wanted to create alcohol awareness by educating students on safe consumption so they aren’t abusing alcohol,” said Tayler Jefferson, a peer advocate at the Counseling Center. “We are educating [students] on all of the harmful effects that can happen when drinking.”
On Oct. 30, students could stop by the table set up by the Counseling Center in Fainman Lounge and play Know Your Beer Pong—a safer version of the infamous game that meant to educate students on side effects of drinking and prepare them for emergency situations.
“We set it up like they are playing beer pong, but instead of beer, there are questions at the bottom of the cups,” Jefferson said. “Every time a student throws a ball and makes it into a cup, they have to answer the question. All of the questions we have are alcohol facts that go as far as to do’s and don’ts.”
The questions ranged from understanding blood alcohol content to the legal aspect of drinking.
“One example of a question we have is taking care of friends,” Jefferson said. “What should you do if you have a friend who is unresponsive and passed out from drinking? The answer to that question is placing them in a fetal position and calling 911.”
In another game called Drunk Goggles Obstacle Course that occurred Oct. 29 in the Wabash Building, students had to go through a series of scenarios, like leaving a party, finding a jacket and getting on a train, while wearing blurred goggles.
“In the obstacle course, we wanted them to see how it would feel coming home when they are very drunk and the risks that can go along with it,” Jefferson said. “Even though this is simulated, they put on the shoes of a really drunk student, and they were able to see how hard it would be coming home.”
The final step of the process was pouring a glass of water. Jefferson said students who face the same situation in the future may remember what needs to be done to alleviate the effects of excessive drinking.
“We weren’t necessarily promoting coming home drunk or anything,” she said. “We just wanted to give them the opportunity to see how it feels coming home drunk. Everyone thought it was very difficult.”
Alcohol Awareness Week is a part of a series of events organized by the Counseling Center that deal with problems such as domestic violence, sexual assault and depression.
Jefferson said the event didn’t reflect any drinking patterns at school, but meant to keep drinking problems under control.
“It’s more of education and creating awareness than addressing any drinking problems,” she added.
In an attempt to reach a large number of students, the Counseling Center partnered with Residence Life for the first time.
According to Jefferson, this year’s Alcohol Awareness Week was attended by approximately 100 students. She said half of them actually participated in the events.
“We collaborated with Residence Life on this so that RAs would be involved, so it can be more of a community experience,” Jefferson said.
She added that RAs helped with an outreach by posting flyers around the common living areas and giving them to the residents.
“It’s my main responsibility to educate residents about serious topics [such as] the misuse of substances and alcohol, as well as sexual violence,” said Monica Sharp-Petty, graduate hall coordinator for community engagement at the Office of Residence Life.
“We just thought it would be appropriate to do different activities and programs around alcohol education since Halloween is a big drinking holiday,” she said. “With the help of Assistant Director Mario Rodriguez, we found out that the Counseling Center was having these events, and we decided to partner with them.”
Sharp-Petty said she sees the Counseling Center as a “strong resource” and hopes to work with it in the future, as she saw an increased number of participants in the Drunk Goggles Obstacle Course.
“I think [students] get the message,” she said. “They are college students, and there are some realities we have to recognize and respond to. Not so much to keep them from doing it, because they are adults now. We are just trying to promote safe usage.”
According to Ryan Coventry, another peer advocate, collaborations between the Counseling Center and other departments at the university depend on how well the events go.
“[Residence Life] loved the ideas we came up with, and we also helped with marketing and planning to that effect,” he said. “This [event] really showed collaboration between the two departments, and I would definitely say that it would be likely for us to do events with Residence Life, specifically in the future.
CSI, Residence Life, the Academic Success Center and Athletics are some of the offices that have previously cooperated with the Counseling Center for workshops and outreach events.
Jefferson said that despite the mutual effort of the Counseling Center and Residence Life, the event didn’t have particular expectations or benchmarks to achieve.
“We know students will drink anyway,” she said. “We want to show them safe consumption versus the misuse of alcohol, and we also want to educate them on some of the side effects and things that can happen—the negative aspects of the misuse of alcohol.”
The Counseling Center is open to students Monday through Thursday from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in AUD 470. For more information, visit the center’s website at roosevelt.edu/counseling.