Alcohol Awareness Program Strengthened Through UNA-Specific Data

Apr. 19, 2011


FLORENCE, Ala. – Beginning this fall, the University of North Alabama will provide an online self-assessment to help the university better educate students about the effects of drinking alcohol. The self-assessment, AlcoholEdu, an online alcohol prevention program designed specifically for college students by Outside the Classroom, will provide UNA with data unique to the university about student attitudes and behaviors toward alcohol consumption.

“UNA already offers a variety of alcohol awareness tools and programs, but those are based on national trends and national data,” said Dr. Kimberly Greenway, director of student conduct and student affairs assessment. “AlcoholEdu will provide us with trends and data specific to UNA, enabling us to serve the students of UNA in even greater ways. This campus is known as a safe, responsible environment for college students, and we’re trying to ensure that it continues to be that type of environment.”

The AlcoholEdu self-assessment will be administered to each incoming freshman via UNA Portal over a four-year span. Freshmen and their parents will initially receive a letter from UNA President Dr. William Cale about the new self-assessment and the university’s efforts to educate students about alcohol. Students will take the first part of the comprehensive self-assessment before beginning their first semester. After 3-5 weeks, they will take a second, follow-up assessment reflecting on their experiences with alcohol since coming to campus.

A five-member implementation team from UNA traveled to Boston in February to receive alcohol prevention leadership training, conducted by Outside the Classroom. The team included Greenway; Lynne Martin, associate director of university health services, student counseling and disability support; Tammy Jacques, director of student engagement; Kevin Jacques, director of residence life; and Peggy Bergeron, RN, clinical nurse and nurse educator for university health services.

Greenway expects that the educational efforts, based on the data from the self-assessments, will benefit UNA students and may cut down on alcohol-related arrests, student misconduct, poor academic performance and more.

“It will give us a true picture of alcohol use on campus and the perceptions that are out there,” she said. “We will be able to use that data as an educational tool to know how to better reach our students.”

According to 2005 data from the CORE Institute Regional Profiles of College Student Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) Use in Colleges in the Southeast Region, 46 percent of college students “believe drinking alcohol is a central part of the social lives of other college students” and that more than 50 percent of students believe “the social atmosphere on their college campuses actually promote alcohol use.”

UNA Counseling Services currently offers two self-assessments on its Web site, including e-CHUG, focused on alcohol, and e-TOKE, focused on marijuana. Each of these assessments is taken anonymously and offers personalized feedback.

“Some incoming freshmen, at UNA and at every university, believe it’s a right of passage for college students to use alcohol,” Martin said. “To entirely prevent alcohol use among college students is an unrealistic goal. We already have a variety of educational efforts with them. We simply want everyone to have the information they need to better equip themselves in their decisions related to alcohol use. National data continues to tell us that alcohol use remains the number one impediment to academic performance among college students.”

UNA police Chief Bob Pastula said he believes the self-assessments will be effective in reaching students earlier in their college careers, teaching them the hazards of alcohol and how it can affect their lives as well as academic pursuits.

Freshmen will not have to pay to take the self-assessments and will not receive college credit for completing the assessment. For more information, contact Greenway at 256-765-5012 or kagreenway@una.edu.