Alcohol awareness proves more important than ever

Staff Editorial

October 3, 2012

Drinking and alcohol are a part of almost every college campus, but it’s up to each individual student to accept responsibility for their wellbeing and prepare to avoid the dangers alcohol can cause.

According to statistics found on collegedrinkingprevention.gov, in 2009 approximately 1,825 college students ages 18 to 24 died due to the abuse of the alcohol. That is nearly 35 people every week.

Think about that statistic for a few moments and let it sink in, and think about the numbers as they relate to High Point University. 1,825 people is nearly half of our student population, and the number 35 represents a population larger than nearly every class you will take while at this university.

Alcohol abuse has and continues to be a huge problem across college campuses in the United States.

At HPU it is important that as students, we police our peers and ourselves when it comes to the use of alcohol and make sure that we prevent anyone from becoming a victim to alcohol.

“Human beings are going to make poor choices,” said Vice President for Student Life Gail Tuttle. “However, I know that our student body is smart and knows right from wrong and can help educate one another. I’ve seen all the good this community has done and know how much we care about one another.”

The HPU security team does an incredible job of keeping our campus safe in terms of crime. When it comes to the use of alcohol and other illegal substances, it becomes an extremely difficult job.

“We try to be proactive by having a strong presence, most notably with officers on foot patrol. We also try to have students see us early on in the evening,” said Security Chief and Transportation Director Jeff Karpovich. “We realize that we can be seen as the enemy, but we want students to realize that we’re not out to catch them, but rather we’re out there to keep them safe.  At the same time however, we can’t ignore certain things either.”

The topic of alcohol abuse has recently become a more pressing issue at HPU due to rumors of an increased number of ambulances coming on campus, as well rumors of an increased police presence. However, according to Karpovich, neither of these rumors are true. In fact, Karpovich noted that police presence on campus has actually decreased.

Rumors or not, it’s not a bad thing that alcohol abuse is being widely discussed among students as it hopefully is making more students aware of the dangers it can pose.

“As a society, we sometimes send messages validating binge drinking,” said Tuttle. “Therefore it is important that we do talk about this issue within our community and help everyone realize the dangers.”

One way that the university helped students better understand the dangers of alcohol was through Alcohol Awareness Week, which was organized by student life and ran from Sept. 24-29. Activities during the week included a silent rave as well as drunk driving simulator.

“I really admire the Inter-Residence Council [IRC] for teaming up with the office of student life to host the silent rave,” said Tuttle. “The event brought out close to 250 people and illustrated that you can have a good time without alcohol being served.”

Another way in which the university is helping educate students is through a mandatory alcohol education program for freshmen.  Before 2011, HPU did not require incoming freshmen to complete an alcohol program. Now, every freshman is required to complete one before moving on to campus.

According to Tuttle, the office of student life also uses programs such as Sassi and Haven to help educate students with regards to substance abuse, alcohol abuse and other related topics.

“Sassi is an assessment for students that determines whether a student is abusing, dependent or okay in terms of their use of substance,” said Tuttle.

Haven is an online educational course for students that doesn’t focus specifically on alcohol abuse but focuses more on sexual assault and how alcohol is a major factor in most sexual assault cases.

As a student body, if we hold one another accountable, we will be able to avoid having to deal with unnecessary tragedies and will be able to maintain the reputation as one of the best universities in the country.

“Choices are what you make of them and you always have to deal with the consequences of these choices,” said Tuttle. “Therefore, be good to yourself and make good choices. Continue to be the HPU that cares for one another.”