ADEP working at changing image of alcohol use in college

It is Tuesday night at the College. Where is everyone?

At a party off-campus? Drinking in their residence hall? Apparently not. Well, at least not everyone. It seems that when most students at the College say they just like to go out and have a good time, they really mean it. No keg stands, no drunk driving and no hangovers.

Now that may sound inaccurate for a college campus, but at the College, it is the truth. But some students feel the common perception that college means drinking and partying every night is not necessarily true.

Departments at the College are working hard to combat the “College equals alcohol theory” in order to restore the reputation of the student. The Alcohol and Drug Education Program (ADEP), is responsible for the campaigns that educate students about alcohol use on campus. One of ADEP’s main focuses is to clarify what the drinking habits are for “most” College students.

Joe Hadge, ADEP director, does not deny that alcohol is present at some parties. Hadge always corrects people who perpetuate the false stereotype that “everybody drinks.”

Inexperienced first-year students are just one reason that the program is so concerned with safety. The ADEP program trains all Residence Life staff to recognize signs and symptoms of alcohol problems, as well as how to document any incidents. While this documentation may make the alcohol situation seem bigger than it really is, the purpose is to stop a potential problem before it turns into something more severe.

Hadge often refers to this situation on campus not as an alcohol problem but, instead, as a challenge. “Every year there are 1,200 new 18-year-olds,” Hadge said, “and a large number of students may not be experienced or aren’t knowledgeable about alcohol consumption.” A lot of times, Hadge figures, “they just don’t know what they are doing.”

The training is interactive, including the use of “fatal vision goggles” that show the effects of impaired vision from alcohol. Hadge is impressed with the sense of teamwork he sees when working with organizations on campus, such as Residence Life, Greek life and athletics, which all participate in the education and training. He believes they help to eliminate the negative spin that an alcohol education program could potentially have.

“This is not a ‘just say no’ or a ‘war on drugs’ type of thing,” Hadge said. The program’s goals are to educate students on ways to make healthy decisions and to have responsibility when it comes to alcohol.

The staff at ADEP understands that alcohol can be used appropriately when students make informed decisions. The challenge is getting the message out there, working on correcting any misperceptions people may have and encouraging safe atmospheres. ADEP is confident that every year they are successful in reducing the amount of severe alcohol problems on campus.

“From notable mistakes and problems comes the best learning,” Hadge said.