An article today by Emily Yoffe in Slate addressed the real and important issue of sexual assault on college campuses, and the role that alcohol often plays.
At the core of her argument — which has drawn criticism from many corners of the Internet — is the claim that “we are failing to let women know that when they render themselves defenseless, terrible things can be done to them.“
However, for at least a decade many colleges have mandated that their newest students arrive on campus having completed some sort of alcohol awareness course, a trend that is only growing. These courses are typically all-encompassing, teaching students about the varied effects of alcohol, including specific differences between gender, weight, and types of alcohol.
One example of this is Ohio University, which requires all first-year students to take an online course titled Alcohol and Sexual Assault Awareness Edu for College “because we care about your health, your safety, and your success, and because we are concerned for the welfare of the community.”
Another school, Boston University, recently announced that all incoming students are required to complete AlcoholEdu, a two-part alcohol awareness program that is also in place at UC Berkeley, Northwestern University, and UT Austin, among many other schools.
“The surveys and intersecting information touch on such topics as how many drinks are in a bottle of wine or beer, factors influencing whether people drink, exaggerated notions of heavy drinking on campuses, alcohol’s effects on the body and mind, and tactics students can use to protect themselves and friends from harm in a variety of drinking situations,” according to BU.
These programs are nothing new for college campuses. Before starting Cornell University in 2009, I had to complete Alcohol-Wise — an online program that aims to teach students how to consume alcohol responsibly by offering personalised advice based on gender and daily alcohol intake.
In fact, CNN reported in 2007 that at least 1,000 schools required new students to complete online alcohol courses prior to arriving on campus, citing one study that said many students completing alcohol awareness education cut their drinking by more than half.
For many, if not most, college students, alcohol education has become an intrinsic part of their orientation experience, and that knowledge stays with them throughout their time in school.
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