Daily Egyptian

New program will promote alcohol moderation

By Chase Myers, @chasemyers_DE

Four out of five college students drink alcohol and of those who do, half consume alcohol through binge drinking, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

With the help of a $30,000 NCAA Choices Alcohol Education grant, the new SalukiChoices program, a collaboration between the Student Health Services, Saluki Athletics and the Department of Health Education and Recreation, plans on informing the student body of the dangers of alcohol abuse.

The grant will fund a number of videos, social media usage and other outlets for getting the message across, Dawn Null, wellness coordinator for Student Health Services, said.

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“The purpose of the SalukiChoices program is to create positive change on campus by fostering harm-reduction behavior,” Null said in an email. “We hope to reduce the number of SIU students who misuse alcohol, thus enabling students to flourish academically, personally and professionally.”

While discouraging alcohol consumption altogether seems unpractical, SalukiChoices focuses on moderate use of alcohol against binge consumption, she said.

“Abstinence from alcohol is simply not realistic on a college campus,” Null said. “Wellness takes a harm reduction approach. Harm reduction simply means that we try and meet a student where they are in terms of alcohol use or misuse and educate and encourage that student to move toward safer behaviors.”

Although the grant is not one of the larger sums the university has received, it is still sizable and will ensure harm reduction programs without using student dollars, she said.

The Student Health Center worked in tangent with Saluki Athletics when constructing a grant proposal for the grant, Kathy Jones, senior associate athletic director, said.

“We sat down and looked at the best practices in terms of grant proposals that had been approved,” Jones said. “We then brainstormed ideas about what we thought would work on this campus. It has to be a whole campus effort, but it has to include student athletes as a component.”

She said the amount of drinking, drunk driving and negative outcomes of drinking are large issues on SIU’s campus, as well as other campuses.

“Data shows students tend to think that everybody else is drinking more than they really are and they sort of drink to keep up, so part of it is to get out the message that there are a lot of people that aren’t drinking,” she said. “There are other ways to have fun.”

Some students have mixed feelings about the initiative considering it is on a college campus.

“I think it might work,” Brenton Harris, a senior from Tuscola studying zoology, said. “I mean maybe $30,000 isn’t that much in the grand scheme of things, so if it helps people with that I’m all for it.”

Others feel the response to SalukiChoices will be that of one group getting behind the cause and others not caring either way.

“I think that people who care about their bodies and their health would probably listen to it, but some people who are just like ‘party, party, party,’ probably won’t,” Erika Glaub, a senior from Chicago studying zoology, said.

While the student body may be split on the topic, alcohol moderation is something worth addressing.

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