While unhealthy choices are prevalent on all college campuses, Frostburg State University officials make promising strides in battling excessive drinking.
The Substance Abuse Fact and Education (S.A.F.E.) Office at FSU is gearing up for another year of offering alternative programs and solutions to drinking, empowering students who make healthy choices and shattering the myths that exist about student behaviors.
During a 2003 Core Drug and Alcohol Survey of FSU students, results show that FSU is 43% – no better, no worse – among higher education four-year institutions in the incidence of high-risk drinking which consists of five or more drinks at sitting in the past two weeks, often called binge drinking. The number of high-risk drinkers at FSU dropped 5% since 2000, according to the survey. Also, findings report that over half of FSU students drink once a week or less. Most drink light or moderate amounts. Nearly 13 percent do not drink at all.
"The data shows that students misperceive their peers' use of alcohol," says Dr. Spencer F. Deakin, FSU Counseling Center director and chair of the President's Advisory Council on Substance Abuse. "It's assumed everyone's drunk every weekend. In truth, the majority of students don't engage in high-risk drinking."
Through the S.A.F.E. Office, the President's Advisory Council on Substance Abuse and BURG Peer Education Network, an award-winning student organization, FSU continues to take a comprehensive approach to the student high-risk drinking problem. So much emphasis had been placed previously on the negative consequences of drinking, including news reports of excessive underage alcohol arrests on campus. The majority of students who choose to drink do so in a light or moderate way.
“We are challenging the myths,” says Don Swogger, director of the S.A.F.E Office.
Swogger and his team’s approach is social “norming” or marketing – a campaign of posters and promotional information announcing that even though alcohol abuse is on every campus, including FSU, the majority of students set limits and make healthy choices.
The S.A.F.E. Office continues to publish a handy guide of “101 Things to Do at FSU” for distribution among students, containing alcohol-free activities ranging from horseback riding to dancing to hiking.
In the upcoming semester, S.A.F.E. and BURG will continue to sponsor educational events, such as a drama on date rape awareness, motivational speaker Bobby Petrocelli, as well as social events as Thinkfast, an awareness game show, where students can win cash prizes and the 8th Annual BURG Bash dance, a popular and award-winning event. In addition, all incoming freshman at FSU will attend a presentation on healthy choices by David Hellstrom, the nationally known director of Education and Training for the BACCHUS and GAMMA Peer Education Network, who has appeared on such venues as the TODAY Show.
With the start of a new academic year and new programming, Swogger knows giving students options and information is only part of the process.
“I can only influence people, I can’t change them,” adds Swogger. “A change has to come from within.”
For more information on the S.A.F.E. Office, call 301-687-4761.