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CU has re-initiated an online alcohol prevention course for students, asking to think about their drinking habits and learn about the effects of alcohol on the body.
AlcoholEdu for College is a highly encouraged science-based course available for all students, especially those new to campus to be on the same page of understanding as peers, said Jane Curtis, M.A., director for Alcohol and Other Drugs Program.
The feedback for the course, which stresses responsible drinking, has thus far been overwhelmingly positive, Curtis said.
“In part it’s how we set it up,” Curtis said. “We want to encourage students to talk to us. Voluntary participation is a large part of the success.”
Curtis continued saying she is very pleased with the student participation.
Approximately 4600 students took the course, 1200 shy of the 5800 registered incoming students.
In 2004, the program was mandated and received less than favorable responses. This year, they decided to try a voluntary approach, as well as a different module, to encourage rather than enforce, Curtis said.
“In the past, it was made mandatory and kids resented it; lesson learned,” said Curtis, who is satisfied with how the program was newly implemented.
There was some confusion, however, among incoming students who believed the course was mandatory due to the wording of the notification which asked for enrollment.
“They made it seem like it would interfere with registration if I did not take the course,” Alex Fields, a freshman psychology major said. “In the end, it was frustrating and made me want to drink more.”
However, looking a little deeper some discovered the program was voluntary.
“I read the letter carefully about the course and didn’t take it because I found I didn’t have to but read that it affected consequences if a student was in trouble,” said Jules Fortlage, a freshman international affairs major.
The course is tied into the University of Colorado conduct code and can be a mitigating factor in the judicial affairs system if a student is in violation of the code, Curtis said.
CU Buffs Coach Dan Hawkins has recently decided to make the course mandatory for the football team.
Hawkins finds alcohol and substance abuse during college an alarming and shocking issue, with statistics showing 82 percent of college freshmen getting drunk at least once a week, he said.
“I always mention this when giving motivational speeches,” Hawkins said. “Somehow we need to curb this culture’s alcohol use within college and society as a whole. They need to know how to handle issues going on.”
This will be the introductory year to mandate the course for the team and after receiving feedback from the players, he will decide whether to continue it in following years.
The course, which is approximated for a two and a half hour completion, is separated in two parts.
The first is a pre-test to gauge understanding, including a survey, preliminary assessment of knowledge, an educational course and an exam, which requires an 80 percent for passing completion.
Part two is a refresher and is to be completed six weeks later for response and a review of possible change in drinking habits including a third survey and a short video.
The confidential results do not become part of a data set but are designed to communicate feedback to the student.
Results are also benchmarked with six other peer institutions for comparative results which have shown decreased drinking patterns over long-term research studies, Curtis said.
Since the course is designed for student feedback, the final portion includes a student engagement feature which allows the participant to respond to a variety of alcohol-free activities they would like to see on campus, such as movie nights.
Curtis said this has received great feedback, receiving responses from over 2,000 students to provide a great wealth of data with different choices of what students want to do.
The students are then contacted via email when events of interest occur.
The course is beneficial for all students, Curtis said, regardless of drinking habits and is not designed to pass judgment one way or the other.
“Whether or not a student drinks, AlcoholEdu will provide personalized information motivating them to make healthy behavior decisions and how to better handle peers’ drinking behavior,” Curtis said.
She hopes to see the course implemented again next year and wants to see improvements in student notification and reminder emails.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Christine Larsen at firstname.lastname@example.org.