In 2010, for the third year in a row, Oglethorpe University received a $5,000 grant from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS). In September 2010, Oglethorpe was also awarded a $30,000 NCAA CHOICES grant to be used over the next three years. Both grants fund on-campus training and peer education in an effort to battle the damaging realities of alcohol abuse in college-aged adults.
These grants supported several surveys that help school counselors and student groups gather data about alcohol use to be used to help students confront misconceptions and misinformation about alcohol use. The NCAA funding also will help support a student-athlete alcohol task force and a social marketing campaign.
According to the GOHS, although young people (ages 16-20) account for only 7% of Georgia’s population, they were responsible for 13% of the total crash fatalities for 2005. Though shocking, it comes as no surprise that the number one cause of death for young adults aged 18-24 is due to traffic fatalities.
In an effort to curb irresponsible drinking and to educate its students about positive decision making, Oglethorpe continues to be a strong participant in programs like the Georgia Young Adult Program, a statewide initiative funded by the GOHS to combat high-risk behaviors, especially as it relates to highway safety.
The grant has also funded the administration of Core Alcohol and Drug Surveys at Oglethorpe, as well as an interactive web survey, Alcohol e-CHECKUP TO GO. The web survey allows students to enter information about their drinking patterns and receive feedback about their alcohol use.
Similar surveys conducted at other schools show that many students think other students consume more alcohol than they actually do. The goal is that over time, as perceptions are corrected, levels of alcohol use will decrease.
At Oglethorpe, members of student groups, faculty, athletics, and Greek row make up the Oglethorpe University Campus Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention and Education Coalition. The group collaborates in alcohol programming and strives to create a safe and healthy campus environment through peer education. It acts as an advisory board for alcohol programming efforts across campus.
“We truly have created an invested group of allies for alcohol education and awareness initiatives,” said Leanne Henry-Miller, Counseling Center director. “[The Coalition] feels strongly that we need to bring to life the statistics from the Core Alcohol and Drug Survey and increase the use of social norms strategies in the programs we offer.”