Different schools, different approaches to alcohol awareness

Monday, September 13, 2010 | 7:12 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Kim Dude has worked with MU's alcohol awareness programs for more than 30 years, and she had many questions in the days after a young woman fell over a railing and was critically injured at a Columbia bar two weekends ago.

One of them was: "You have to ask, where were her friends?" Dude, director of the Wellness Resource Center, said.

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The Wellness Resource Center calculator does not take into account factors like genetic makeup, personal health and recent food consumption.

The MU Wellness Resource Center is launching a new program called “Life is not a spectator sport,” which strives to inspire students to notice when alcohol is causing a problem, and then to develop the skills they need to intervene. The program's launch is not related to the incident at Quinton's Bar and Grill.

The woman, 19-year-old Kelsi Poe, remained in critical condition Monday at University Hospital after tumbling over a railing at Quinton's on Sept. 4. Poe's blood-alcohol level was .32 — four times the legal driving limit. Poe is a student at Columbia College.

Nearly 600,000 college students are injured each year in alcohol-related accidents. According to, 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 died from alcohol-related injuries in 2009, including motor vehicle crashes.

MU, Columbia College and Stephens College have all developed alcohol awareness programs that aim to prevent or reduce these types of accidents. Dude said more needs to be done to increase student vigilance about alcohol poisoning.

"Honestly, I want to start a revolution where students care more about each other," Dude said. "I think students care about the world, but not enough about each other."

MU: A year-round effort

MU’s Wellness Resource Center offers alcohol awareness programs to incoming freshmen during Summer Welcome,  one of which is a skit performed by peer educators. They sponsor and hold another 150 to 250 events throughout the year.

October is national Alcohol Responsibility Month. “Many of our big showcases are in the month of October, but we have programs all year around,” Dude said.

An Alcohol Responsibility Month 12-hour walk is scheduled for Oct. 8 from noon until midnight. "This is our biggest event of the year," Dude said. "There will be hundreds of students." The walk at Stankowski Field includes music and food for the walkers.

The Wellness Resource Center has received awards for its programs. The U.S. Department of Education selected the resource center as a model prevention program in the country in 1999, 2006 and 2010.

The center also helps train the staffs of restaurants and businesses to watch for over consumption. A free online training program is available on the center's website.

"We face many, many challenges," Dude said. "We are competing with all the media, the movies, and everyone that glamorizes alcohol."

Columbia College: A focus on prevention

At Columbia College, incoming freshman and transfer students with fewer than a total of 45 credit hours are strongly encouraged to take the class Introduction to Columbia College. The class requires students to attend multiple events and take an E-chug Online Alcohol Assessment within the first four weeks of classes.

Director of Student Development at Columbia College, Kim Coke, said the focus is on prevention. “We give students the information to make responsible choices,” Coke said.

The E-chug Online Alcohol Assessment is a supplement to the classroom that provides personalized feedback about individual drinking patterns, specific health and unique family factors, alongside information about the campus and community.

After the E-chug assessment, peer educators lead discussions about the responsibilities of friends drinking together. The peer educators at Columbia College also sponsor the Root Beer Kegger and BBQ. The event focuses on actions students can take to minimize problem drinking and make better decisions about using alcohol.

In October, the peer educators led programs in the residence halls and the student commons that promote alcohol awareness. Columbia College also uses passive programs like bulletin boards and displays as positive reinforcement.

The college uses shifts in cultural trends and peer-input in determining the direction of its programs, Coke said.

Stephens College: Mandatory class, and acceptance

Stephens is not a dry campus, which means students over the age of 21 can have alcohol in their rooms as long as no one in the room is under age. But alcohol education is mandatory for all new students including transfers.

"We are in the middle of the middle of the road," said Deb Duren, Vice President for Student Services at Stephens College. "We don't encourage people to drink, but we understand that some will."

At the beginning of each year, Stephens holds a four day-orientation that includes a safety and security meeting. It addresses various health issues including alcohol use and abuse. In these first few days, program leaders promote the idea that friends should look out for friends.

Stephens students also attend a seven-week student success course that addresses issues that young women face while in college including drugs and alcohol and tips to have a successful college career.

Duren said health services engages in proactive education about alcohol and other related issues that students might face in college. Greek organizations and counselors also put on programs in the dorms that teach students more about alcohol awareness during October.

Missourian reporter Walker Moskop contributed to this report.

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