CU’s reputation as a party schools has no doubt contributed to its public decision to treat alcohol and other drug abuse as a community health problem.
CU said it is doing what it can to help students make healthier decisions. In a recent news release, CU stated its approach to this problem.
“At CU-Boulder, we are engaged in comprehensive efforts to reach individual students about alcohol and drug issues, while also addressing those issues as a collective community health problem,” the release stated.
Erin Overcash, a 20-year-old junior aerospace engineering major, said this method is better than just condemning alcohol use.
“I think that approaching [alcohol and drug abuse] as a community health issue is a better way to go about things,” Overcash said. “If you just say to students,
‘don’t drink because it’s illegal,’ they are only going to want to do it more.”
Overcash also said students who felt their drinking has become an issue might be more likely to ask for help if CU presents alcohol abuse as a health issue that affects the entire community.
According to the news release, CU has a number of programs that bring awareness of alcohol abuse to its current and prospective students. Even before enrolling, new students must take “Alcohol-Wise,” an online class that aims to teach responsible drinking practices.
They also receive presentations at orientation about the harmful effects that alcohol many from a number of different campus groups, including the Office of Student Conduct, the CUPD, the Honor Code Office, Community Health, and the Interactive Theater Project.
“Awareness is so important when it comes to drinking,” said Taylor Gordon, a 19-year-old sophomore integrative physiology major. “People don’t realize that it can be such an all-consuming thing. I think it’s definitely a good thing that we have these programs.”
CU also stated in the release that it has increased alcohol- and drug-free social opportunities on campus, as well as added counseling resources. Additionally, there are a number of student groups on campus that encourage sobriety.
One of these groups, Oasis, is a student group run by Counseling and Psychological Services. The purpose of this group is to form community for those who choose to live a sober lifestyle, said Matthew Tomatz, substance abuse program coordinator at Counseling and Psychological Services.
“We’re there to try to create community, and we do that through a Friday afternoon social ritual,” Tomatz said. “We usually answer some sort of crazy question as a means of getting to know each other. For instance, ‘if you could have gotten here on any animal, what animal would it be?’ If someone picks a rhinoceros versus a turkey, it tells you a lot about the person.”
Though CU is making an effort to help educate its students about alcohol and drug related problems, there still are many students that are not aware of most of the school’s support programs.
“No, I don’t really know about them [CU’s alcohol programs] at all,” said Dillon Dubois, a 19-year-old sophomore international affairs major. “I don’t think that the people I hang out with really take alcohol abuse that seriously. It’s just something people laugh off.”
Dubois said CU could definitely do more in terms of addressing alcohol issues, but it might be hard to make much of a difference in a place where drinking is such a big part of the culture.
“CU definitely does a lot to try to help prevent alcohol abuse,” Gordon said. “I just don’t know if you can convince everyone at the No. 1 party school in the nation that they shouldn’t drink.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Hadley Vandiver at Hadley.firstname.lastname@example.org.