WCU educates students how to “Party smart”


Alcohol Awareness Week 2016 poster provided by Joanna Rathbone

Each year over 1,800 college students die from alcohol-related injuries, more than 97,000 college students are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or rape and over 599,000 college students receive unintentional injuries while under the influence. This statistics comes from National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
They are calling for cultural change and so is WCU.

Oct. 6 to 11 is Alcohol Awareness Week on the Western Carolina University campus.

The events ultimate goal is to educate students about alcohol safety to ensure a safe and successful college experience.

In the 1980’s, the Congress passed a federal law requiring all college/universities that received federal funding to have alcohol awareness initiatives. The event as we have come to know it has been occurring for the last seven years.

“The events empower students to make smart choices, keep safe by not drinking excessively and to avoid drinking and driving,” said Joanna Rathbone, Coordinator of Alcohol and Drug Education at WCU.

AOD Code of Student Conduct Violations 2007‐08 through 2014‐15 from the WCU 2016 Fire Safety and Security Report.

AOD Code of Student Conduct Violations 2007‐08 through 2014‐15 from the WCU 2016 Fire Safety and Security Report.

According to WCU 2016 Annual Fire Safety and Security Report during the 2011-2012 academic year efforts were made to enhance alcohol and other drugs enforcement on campus after Jackson County voted on county-wide alcohol sales. Since 2012, the alcohol and drug use on the WCU has stayed fairly consistent with the national average, with the alcohol use being slightly lower.

The report also states that first year students are more likely to violate the alcohol and other drugs policy on campus.

“There are many reasons why students choose to use alcohol and other drugs. Some students use drinking as a way to break the ice, enhance social activity and enable sexual opportunities. Alcohol is also often used as a coping mechanism,” said Rathbone.

Alcohol Awareness Week provides students with the opportunity to interact with various departments on campus and learn how to drink safely.

The week kicked off in the Blue Ridge Multipurpose Room on Oct. 6 with “Why I carry My Backpack?” a testimonial from Brian Boyer, WCU Residential Case Manager, discussing alcohol safety and what it is like to lose the closest to you as a result of alcohol consumption.

On Friday, Oct. 7,  during the day was BAC Yard Games on the UC Lawn. In order to learn about the effects that alcohol has on the brain and motor skills; students were able to drive a golf cart with UPD or go through an obstacle course wearing drunk goggles.

Sober Tailgating will be held on Oct. 8 before the football game from 3-5:30 p.m. in the Baseball Lot (Lot 8A). This event gives students the opportunity to enjoy the tailgating experience without the pressures of alcohol. Free food will be provided.

Kevin McCauley, a medical doctor who focuses on addiction, will be coming to speak to WCU students on Oct. 10 from 5-7 p.m. in the Health and Human Sciences Building about his life of early sobriety, his struggles and his craving to return to drug use.

Finally, Alcohol Awareness Week will come to an end on Oct. 11 with “Remember the 1800” from 11-2 p.m. by the central plaza fountain which will ask students to reflect on their alcohol use and how it might affect their lives. It is a pledge to be safe and not become one of the 1,800 college students that lose their life every year to alcohol related incidents.

For more information on alcohol and drug abuse on campus or to get help, contact the Department of Alcohol and Drug Education.