SU adds freshman alcohol ed

Posted: September 16, 2013

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — Shenandoah University freshman D.J. Gayles is thankful he knew what to do when he encountered an intoxicated student earlier this school year.

Gayles had to help the student back to their residence at 2:30 in the morning.

He credits a new alcohol education class for telling him what to do. Without it, he might have left the person to their own devices.

“I might not have helped without the class,” he said. “It made me realize the severity of what could happen. I would want someone to help me if I was in the same situation.”

This year, for the first time, Shenandoah University is making all incoming freshman take AlcoholWise, an online class about alcohol education. Students took the first part of the course over the summer and will finish the second part in September.

“It was just time,” said Ashley Crockett Wisniewski, assistant director of student conduct. “We’re growing; there’s more students.”

According to Wisniewski, the class is meant to clarify the preconceived notion of how many college students drink.

The course goes over the myths of alcohol intake, the percentage of students who drink, how to drink responsibly, signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning, how to recognize the signs of abuse, and how sexual misconduct and drinking can tie together.

The course also allows a student to calculate his or her alcohol tolerance.

“It’s almost sort of a relief to hear some of the information given,” said freshman Dan Halpren. “My perception was skewed from movies and TV. Most kids from our age group have seen ‘American Pie,’ which makes it seem like a big college party.”

“It’s relieving because I didn’t want to be around that environment at all,” he said. “It doesn’t seem constructive.”

Students will not get a grade for the course. The cost of the program to the school is $11 per student.

In 2011, the latest data available, there was one alcohol-related arrest and 46 judicial referrals on SU’s main campus, according to a school report. Off campus, there were no arrests or referrals.

Freshman Josh Wax has already assisted a drunken neighbor back to his room — thanks to the course.

“It helps enlighten ourselves of situations and surroundings around us,” he said.

Junior Emily Menhorn, a mentor for underclassmen, said two freshmen have already come up to her with a surprising fact that they had recently learned.

“It’s not 90 percent [of students] that drink,” she said. “Really, it’s the opposite. It’s nice to hear two freshmen know that.”

— Contact Rebecca Layne at rlayne@winchesterstar.com