UWP recognizes October as Alcohol Awareness month

October 1, 2002

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PLATTEVILLE-While the month of October often means ghosts, goblins and ghouls to many, at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville alcohol education takes center stage.

The month of October is alcohol awareness month. In recognition of this nation-wide initiative, the UWP Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Education Program has planned a number of events from "mocktail" parties, where students are invited to drink non-alcoholic beverages and try on "beer goggles" provided by the Platteville Police Department, to a life-size alcohol game in McGregor Hall.

The University began addressing issues of alcohol use about 15 years ago with a student assistance program, facilitated by a graduate student. Since that time, the program has evolved with the development of an alcohol counseling service that provides students with information and alcohol assessments.

"Because of the repercussions heavy drinking can have on students' academic success, life goals and health, we work with students in terms of trying to impact their behavior in regards to alcohol," said Roger Meyer, director for University Counseling Services. "We do alcohol assessments to determine the level of treatment a student may need. Most of the students we come in contact with, we are able to help, but if the use is too severe, we refer the student to off- campus services."

UWP's alcohol education initiative receives the highest level of administrative support from the University. Chancellor David Markee recently signed a proclamation signifying the University's pledge to alcohol awareness.

"Each year, Chancellor Markee signs a proclamation that reflects the University's commitment to focus efforts and address alcohol issues on campus," said Michael Viney, assistant chancellor for student affairs. "Alcohol use and abuse is not only a major factor affecting student success, but it also relates to a number of other issues such as vandalism and sexual assault.

"In the 17 years that I've been at UWP, every sexual assault incident but one has involved alcohol. So we feel it's vital for us to assess our students' priorities and the roles alcohol play in their lives."

Other alcohol-related programs and services on campus include alcohol-free events sponsored throughout the year by the residence halls, student activities and/or University Counseling Services. Esteem, a group of peer educators, also hosts presentations and programs on campus where students have the opportunity to ask alcohol-related questions. Alcohol education is also promoted through social marketing, Meyer said.

"We want to dispel the myths that all students drink and in order to meet people and have fun, one has to drink," Meyer said. "In a survey taken by our students, we found that 50 percent said they drink once a week or less. Fifteen percent said they had not tried alcohol at all in the last year. So students don't have to drink to fit in. There are other things to do that don't involve drinking."

Two committees have been established to promote alcohol education and responsible drinking at UWP. The University Alcohol and Drug Advisory Committee, made up of faculty, staff and students, looks at the big picture of alcohol and drug use, setting University policies and procedures related to drinking and drug use.

The second group, the Alcohol and Other Drug Use Coalition, consists of faculty, staff, students and community members. This group is more of a "working committee," developing activities and looking at what specifically can be done to impact alcohol and drug use on campus.

The UW System has also made alcohol education a priority, sponsoring conferences on alcohol education and making recommendations to promote alcohol awareness.

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