Student Health Counseling Services (SHCS) and the Faculty Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) collaborated to host the annual National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week (NCAAW) during the first week of November.
In a series of events ranging from panel speakers to game nights, NCAAW at Emory aims to increase awareness in the college environment and in the overall Emory community, according to SHCS health educator Alyssa Lederer, who said that the week held four key messages including awareness, resource availability, stigma elimination and providing options.
“We want to make sure the community knows about the resources available,” she said. “We’re here to be here for students and employees.”
The University’s second annual NCAAW kicked off on Monday with “Real Talk with Gini and Willie,” where students submitted anonymous questions online. Lederer said about 50 students attended the session with questions about what alcohol-free events are available on campus and how to help a friend in trouble.
Topics this year differed from those of last year’s, Lederer said. Last year’s panel discussion focused on Amethyst Initiative, a collaboration of presidents of universities across the United States who advocate rethinking the current drinking age of 21.
“It was really a big part of the press last year,” Lederer explained and added that the panel explored different approaches to keeping the community safe. “It was a call for dialogue on the drinking age, and [University] President [James W.] Wagner was open to what people were saying.”
Lederer said that because Amethyst Initiative is not as prevalent in the media as it was last year, NCAAW did not put as much emphasis on the controversial topic this year.
Instead, students and faculty discussed topics such as safety and where to go for help. A workshop led by members of rehabilitation program Richfield Institute educated faculty and staff on how to help someone who may be abusing alcohol.
“We want to really destigmatize talk about alcohol,” Lederer said.
Interactive events such as last night’s Alcohol Trivia Night aimed to inform students and open discussion.
Wagner opened the night, addressing about 60 participants.
“Having knowledge on this kind of a subject is a good power to have,” Wagner said.
Senior Vice Provost for Undergraduate Academic Affairs Santa Ono and College junior Alec Fox lead the trivia event with questions concerning the difference between a “black-out” and a “brown-out” and where to go for help.
Lederer emphasized the importance of knowing what resources are available on campus and that students should be familiar with substance abuse counselors Virginia Plummer and Willie Bannister.
To keep the atmosphere of the event engaging, not all of the questions were as serious.
“What song is this?” Ono asked, reading lyrics to the students who requested that he sing them instead.
“I’d rather be at home with Ray/I ain’t got 70 days,” Ono rapped Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab” among laughter, “There’s nothing you can teach me/that I can’t learn from Mr. Hathaway.”
Lederer said that the goal of NCAAW is to reach out to all students and faculty, wherever they stand on the issue of alcohol awareness.
“We want to meet people where they’re at,” she said. “We want to make sure students who don’t drink are happy with that choice and that those who do make low-risk decisions.”
NCAAW was a joint effort, Lederer said. She said that this year, SHCS and FSAP met with leaders on campus representing organizations such as Student Government Association and Interfraternity Council to plan the week’s events.
“What’s most important to your constituency? What kind of information should we present, and what’s the best way to get the information out?” Lederer said of the questions the group leaders were asked.
The events, she said, were based off of suggestions made during this meeting, and were targeted toward both students and faculty.
SHCS and FSAP will be evaluating the week with participant feedback in order to plan for future events.
Overall, Lederer said that she hopes this year’s NCAAW was able to educate the Emory community on the issue of alcohol, that people are aware of the resources available on campus and that students and faculty are open to discussion.
“Alcohol is an issue that has a lot of attention, but also carries a stigma,” Lederer said. “[Discussion] can be challenging, so we want to make sure people know there’s a forum for that here.”
— Contact Alice Chen