Home Campus Required alcohol education program needs improvement, a director says.

Required alcohol education program needs improvement, a director says.

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Incoming freshmen at Ohio University are required to complete an online alcohol education program that could be improved by including less extreme examples of the dangers posed by drinking, a program director said.

Alcohol Edu is a program designed to teach college students how to respond to examples of alcohol misuse such as drunk driving, alcoholism and binge drinking.

The program, however, struggles to provide advice for students who choose not to drink or are a designated driver, said Terry Koons, associate director of the Office of Health Promotion.

Students could benefit from getting virtual exposure to less extreme scenarios involving alcohol, such as receiving pointers on how to act when interacting with loud drunks or assisting an intoxicated friend home from a party, Koons said.

“I see (Alcohol Edu) more as a vaccination in that if you get a vaccine for the flu you might still get the flu,” he said. “So, it gives you kind of some coverage but can’t completely guard against it.”

He also mentioned the Medical Emergency Assistance Program (MEA), a little-known program available to students that can reduce university punishments for those who illegally consume alcohol underage. It, however, does not protect students from the law.

Through this program, bystanders who assist during an incident involving drugs or alcohol can also be exempt from university conduct violations related to the situation.

Terry Hogan, a former Ohio U dean of students, decided in 2005 for the university to use Alcohol Edu.

Two years before the program was implemented, roughly 79% of Ohio U students were binge drinkers, according to Koons. He defined binge drinkers as individuals who consume about five or more standard drinks in a single sitting.

Today, however, only about 21% of students binge drink — an approximate 58% decline over 16 years, Koons said.

The university continues to use Alcohol Edu instead of other available online programs because administrators believe it’s the best product on the market, Koons said.

“The ultimate goal for the Alcohol Edu program is that students know what to do during an emergency,” he said. “We don’t want them wasting valuable time trying to figure out what they should do.”

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One Comment

  1. Liz Partsch

    October 3, 2019 at 3:54 PM

    Exceptional work! A writer whose work is always a must read.


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