New Alcohol Education Program to be Launched Next Semester

Alcohol EDU sketch by Rieko Whitfield

A new alcohol education program is to be launched next semester.

ThinkAboutIt, an alcohol education program proposed by Vice Provost Peter Novak in collaboration with Lawroom, is a company that creates online courses. These will replace the current MyStudentBody program used by USF and several other Jesuit universities. The aim is to create a more realistic and interactive program through which students can think critically about situations involving alcohol, drugs and sexual violence.

Jeremy Beckman, the architect of ThinkAboutIt, presented the structure and design of the program on March 1. Beckman said the philosophy of the project is to be effective in making a difference in each individual.

“Our goal is to prepare them with knowledge and know what to do with that knowledge when they come to campus,” he said.
Representatives from universities such as Boston College, Loyola Marymount University, Santa Clara University and Gonzaga University, which currently use the MyStudentBody alcohol education program attended the presentation. The finalized course will allow universities to customize the settings, so they can make the program specific to their university and students.

Novak said the reason he decided to seek the creation of a new program was because he wasn’t happy with the program students were taking and thought students felt the same way.

“Not a single student wanted to continue using these courses,” he said.

Novak and Lawroom officials used student focus groups to make the program more specific and relatable to college students. The program includes skits, which features USF students in situations consisting of partying, alcohol and drugs.

Halimah Najieb-Locke, recent USF alumna and former ASUSF Senate President, was one of the actresses in a skit regarding alcohol poisoning.

“The program teaches students how to live life safely instead of just telling them not to drink,” she said. “The program is not only specific to the school, but also the city that we are in.”

Along with videos and statistics related to sexual violence, drugs, and alcohol ThinkAboutIt also presents relationship scenarios between heterosexual, homosexual, lesbian and bisexual students. The program uses silhouettes of students so there is no focus on a particular ethnicity. Novak said he recognizes the controversy that may be implicated regarding the content at USF, a Catholic university.

However, he said, “We need to address the needs of our students as our Catholic responsibility.” Other university faculty members at the presentation agreed with Novak’s statement.

Marian Yee, Health Educator for Health Promotion Services at USF, agreed that the proposed program is a lot more practical, useful and applicable to students.

Lex Wochner, current ASUSF President, said he feels the program is drastically different from MyStudentBody. According to Wochner, the program was presented to approximately 150 students at Senate’s Fall Summit, a gathering of student leaders at the university. Many of those students overwhelmingly agreed the program looked better than the former program, and MyStudentBody.

“The biggest difference about the program is that it doesn’t preach to you, but rather does seek to educate students about the risks of alcohol and drug abuse as well as dangers associated with sexual violence,” Wochner said, “There are very few right or wrong answers in the program, and instead, it asks substantive questions that students really do wrestle with.”
ThinkAboutIt is still undergoing changes and adjustments, but it is expected to launch next semester.

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