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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

SU Offers New Online Alcohol Education Program

SALISBURY, MD---Knowing that computer ownership among Salisbury University students is virtually universal, SU officials are reaching out through the Web to convey a message about alcohol, safety and responsibility.

This semester, University is testing the effectiveness of Alcohol-Wise, an online alcohol education and prevention program.  If it’s successful, SU plans to implement the program as a requirement for all freshmen and transfer students who come into the University with less than 24 credit hours.

“Salisbury University is very focused on the wellness of our students and providing alcohol education and resources for them is a natural component to that,” said Dr. Dane Foust, associate vice president of student affairs. “We want to give them the proper tools and information upfront to prevent them from having that negative experience with alcohol.”

Created by San Diego State University, Alcohol-Wise is designed to educate college students about alcohol’s harmful effects and to inhibit alcohol related violations. The computer-based course includes four lessons covering topics such as blood alcohol concentration, intoxication, perceptions of drinking and effects on academics and social behavior. It also features pre- and post-knowledge tests.

Foust described the program as engaging and highly interactive because it provides personalized feedback. For example, students may enter their height, weight and typical number of drinks consumed to receive detailed insights about their own behavior.

The course is being test-piloted by about half of the students enrolled in the new student seminar course Achieving Social, Academic and Personal Success. They spent about two hours completing the program at the beginning of the semester. A follow-up online test will be conducted later this spring.

The University plans to monitor and compare the number of alcohol related incidents among those enrolled in the new program with the number of incidents among other incoming students, said Jennifer Berkman, Student Health Services director.  “We know that students in this generation are really comfortable on the computer and some prefer an online program,” she said. “We want to see if this is a better method of delivery and if the information in this program is going to help them make better choices.”

The University already has a number of measures in place to address alcohol-related issues with students.  For years, there has been a voluntary support group, now called Cheers! To You, geared toward students who are trying to stop or cut down on drinking, Berkman said.  She also runs traditional alcohol education sessions required for those who receive alcohol violations on campus or in the community.

If implemented, the Alcohol-Wise program will supplement presentations already given in new student orientation courses about alcohol, in addition to overall health and wellness. “We are trying to send a message early on that we don’t want students to go down the road focusing on partying and alcohol,” Berkman said. “We want them to be focused on gaining a quality education and preparing for the real world.”

For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU Web site at www.salisbury.edu.



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