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University Joins in Alcohol Use Studies
CSUF committed to promoting health among students

April 21, 2005
By Pam McLaren

Cal State Fullerton is tackling the issue of alcohol abuse among college students. Three recently awarded grants will be used to increase awareness of alcohol use and abuse and to gather data on student perceptions and use.

"Cal State Fullerton is committed to promoting the health of our campus community members by preserving an environment free from illegal drugs and alcohol abuse," said Kandy Mink, dean of students, who also chairs the campus's Alcohol and Other Drug Advisory Committee. "We want to ensure that our students are leading healthy and productive lives free from alcohol abuse.

"Our research shows us that Cal State Fullerton students report that they are drinking at a somewhat lower rate compared with students at other colleges across the country," Mink said. "We also know from campus statistics that on-campus incidents related to alcohol abuse are low. However, those numbers can be deceiving because so many of our students live off campus in the surrounding community."

CSU Alcohol and Traffic Safety Program
Cal State Fullerton is among 10 CSU campuses taking part in an Alcohol and Traffic Safety Program funded by a $750,000 grant. The CSU grant is part of $74.2 million in traffic safety funds awarded last year to 277 California state departments and communities committed to improved traffic safety.

The program, administered by Fresno State , has awarded mini-grants to fund anti-DUI initiatives on the campuses at Bakersfield , Chico , Dominguez Hills, Fullerton , Pomona , San Diego , San Luis Obispo , San Marcos , Sonoma and Stanislaus. The goal is to reduce, by five percent, incidents of driving after consuming alcohol and incidents of misconduct by Dec. 30, 2006.

Fullerton is using part of its mini-grant to underwrite the cost of a web-based education program about alcohol abuse called AlcoholEdu. The main target audience for this effort will be freshmen in the fall 2005 class.

The other funding will be used for a peer education program provided by student leaders of GAMMA Greeks Advocating the Mature Management of Alcohol. The program will include awareness campaigns targeting all Greek student organizations on issues of drinking and driving, binge drinking, alcohol poisoning, consequences of underage drinking and drinking and sexual health.

"Our goal is to reduce risky behavior, particularly around drinking and driving," noted Mink. "We want to give students knowledge so they can make informed decisions when at a party or other situation where there is alcohol."

This is the second such grant CSU has received for alcohol awareness and prevention measures. In 2002, nearly $2 million in grants from state agencies was awarded to the CSU to further curb abuse on its campuses.

Prevention Research Center
In addition, Cal State Fullerton is participating in "Safer California Universities: A Multi-Campus Alcohol Problem Prevention Study" conducted by the Prevention Research Center in Berkeley one of 16 centers throughout the country receiving federal support through the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism for this type of effort. Cal State Fullerton is among a group of UC and CSU campuses taking part in the five-year comparison study. Fullerton is receiving $30,000 per academic year for the life of the project.

In its inaugural year, all participating campuses will conduct student surveys of drinking patterns, alcohol-related problems and perceptions of drinking norms on campus, as well as provide information on medical services and incidents involving alcohol.

Half the campuses will follow up with intervention programs, while the rest, including Cal State Fullerton, serve as controls, said Mink. In each of the follow-up years, all participating campuses will survey students to see if the interventions are having an affect.

 County Partnership
In the third grant effort, Cal State Fullerton joins UC Irvine and the County of Orange Health Care Agency 's Alcohol and Drug Education and Prevention Team in a three-year program to reduce the incidence of binge drinking and other risky drinking behavior in the college-age population. Orange County is one of 13 California counties sharing $10.2 million in federal funds for this effort.

"Student safety and positive health is very important to the university," noted Mink. "As such, we're excited to be working with UCI and the county to find positive solutions to risky drinking behavior in our college-age population."

During the first year, data will be collected from local city police agencies, university offices of judicial affairs and other campus offices about the number and types of alcohol incidents related to UCI and CSUF students.

The last two years will focus on implementing a program geared toward correcting student misperceptions regarding alcohol use, changing community perceptions about alcohol use on campus and advocating policies and procedures that support safe drinking practices.

The grant efforts are just part of the campus activities related to student alcohol use, noted Mary M. Herman, director of health education and promotion at the Student Health and Counseling Center . Those activities are overseen by the Campus Alcohol and Other Drugs Advisory Committee, which is made up of staff and faculty members, students and community partners. Such alcohol education programs are offered through the resident halls, Greek life and athletics, in addition to the general health education program headed up by Herman.

Tomorrow (Friday), 10 Cal State Fullerton students and staff members will join their peers at the fourth annual California State University Alcohol Education Conference "Creative Leadership in Alcohol Prevention on College Campuses" in San Jose .

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