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Orientation event teaches alcohol safety, responsibility

November 18, 2011

Starting this year, UW- River Falls had a new event during the Week Of Welcome (WOW), called “Choose Your Adventure.” This event was designed to help new students learn about alcohol use and abuse and learn about personal responsibility.

Through a variety of “real-life” experiences and issues, students toured rooms that showed both the positive and negative consequences that are associated with drinking. The goal of the new program “Choose Your Adventure” is to let participants think about their choices and behaviors that will help them make positive choices.

Students spent about five minutes in each room, dealing with three different issues: accountability/integrity, inter-relationship violence, and balancing your choices.

Accountability and integrity deals with issues such as what students’ expectations are both in and out of the classroom, and issues such as self-image and how you present yourself.

Inter-relationship violence dealt with informing people about resources on where to go if you are in a violent relationship. Also discussed were red flags to look for, sexual assault, and how some of these issues can be tied to alcohol abuse.

The last issue, balancing your choices, dealt with giving students information on what choices they can make during their college years and helping students learn statistics about alcohol usage in correlation with success on a college campus.

One of the highlights of the program was “Happy Hour with Bernie McGrenahan,” a nationally known comedian with a message that introduced many of the realities of alcohol to new students. In September, the new student survey was given to all new students at the university, and 432 students completed the survey. Of those who participated, 86 percent agreed or strongly agreed that “Choose Your Adventure” helped them understand the impact their choices have on their college life.

“This program is a good outreach to new students on campus,” said Keven Syverson, a health educator coordinator at the University. “It gives students new resources.” The program works because each lecture is only five minutes long so students stay engaged.

New Student and Family Programs provides new students with the information, resources and support that are needed during the transition to and through the college experience.

“Our programs introduce new students to the social responsibilities that are expected of campus community members; however, alcohol is not a topic that is relevant to only first-year students,” said Maggie Clark, orientation and transition program coordinator at the University.

Therefore, the Division of Student Affairs brings awareness and education to all students so they are able to make responsible decisions regarding alcohol consumption.

“This next year our hope is to host ‘Choose Your Adventure’ again during WOW; however, we will be reconsidering some of the logistics, such as time of day/night to encourage greater participation,” said Clark. “We also hope to continue building collaborations and support for WOW across campus.”