Alcohol Awareness Week offered expanded focus, more diverse programming

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College drinking is often seen as a part of [the college] experience, so at Johnson we have to acknowledge that and work together as a community to help further educate our students about the choices they’ll make while they’re in college.”

 

JSC Alcohol Awareness Week, which concluded Oct. 26, has seen an expansion of the traditional focus on education and prevention to include providing ongoing healthy alternatives to drinking.

The week hosted a series of events, including The Rail Jam, The J-Spot, Blood Drive, and The Masquerade Ball. This year continues the trend of increased student involvement in facilitating the events during the week.

Alcohol Awareness week derives from BACCHUS, which according to bacchusnetwork.org is a “network of more than 8,000 student leaders and advisors who work with over four million peers on more than 330 campuses nationwide.”

The events include National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness week, Tobacco Prevention and Cessation, Impaired Driving Prevention, Sexual Responsibility Awareness, and Safe Spring Break.

Michele Whitmore, the associate dean of students, was the main coordinator for the week with help from many staff and student groups.  “College drinking is often seen as a part of [the college] experience, so at Johnson we have to acknowledge that and work together as a community to help further educate our students about the choices they’ll make while they’re in college,” Whitmore said. “Overall the most important thing is to help students keep themselves and their peers safe. Whether you choose to drink or whether you choose to do drugs or not, the overall importance is student safety, and living in a community that feels supportive of our students’ efforts. That’s the reason we brought Alcohol Awareness week to Johnson State College.”

Whitmore also wanted to point out that there is a perception that drinking occurs more than it actually does at JSC.

Funding for the week comes from a variety of sources, including VSAC and an NCAA Choices grant.
Focusing on safety issues, the Office of Public Safety invited two employees of the Vermont Department of Liquor Control to provide information about underage drinking during lunch in Stearns on Oct. 23.

Jennifer Fisher, a trainee specialist, and Skyler Genest, an investigator, also provided the opportunity for students to use goggles to see how their vision is impaired with alcohol.

Fisher says that some of the main points they were trying to get across were that consuming alcohol is illegal for those under 21 and that those who can legally drink need to do so responsibly. “Alcohol is a drug, and often people don’t realize how serious of a drug it is often until it’s somebody with a problem,” she said. “Alcohol is not the same as it used to be 10 years ago, let alone five years ago. There’s very strong alcohol, [and] it’s completely marketed to people for binge drinking.”

One further point that Fisher made was that they were there to educate students. Some of the resources they used were fatal vision goggles and articles that showed deaths of Vermont college students, due to alcohol.

Drug and Alcohol Awareness week does not address all the issues affecting college students. To further address the risks students face, more events like Alcohol Awareness week are being planned throughout the year.

The Great American Smokeout will occur the week before November vacation. It consists of events where communities and college campuses try to educate people about smoking on campus and offer support groups for quitting or reducing smoking. There will also be Play Safe Spring Break the week before spring break, which is designed to help students think about the things they could be doing that don’t involve alcohol.

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