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New programming offers students late night fun mixed with alcohol education

Students sing karaoke during the Party in the Pub on Oct. 17 as part of the Late Nights program that offers social alternatives to drinking.
November 26, 2013

Late Nights at McDaniel, a new series that aims to provide social, fun alternatives to drinking, has reached over 1,000 students in its first semester.

The series has included a carnival kickoff event that attracted 500 students, a trip to the local movie theater and a party in the Pub, an on-campus dining option that does not serve alcohol.

“I think so far it’s been a blast for (the students),” said senior Joshua Fletcher of Lithonia, Ga., a resident assistant studying Exercise Science and Sports Coaching. “This is the fun part of being an RA. You get to hang out, eat cotton candy and have fun with your residents.”

The events, which are held at typical peak drinking times of 9 p.m.-12 a.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, are not only fun, but also educational, according to Andrees Rivers and Danielle Holmes, area coordinators in the Office of Residence Life and members of the Alcohol Awareness and Prevention Committee (AAPC).

“(Drinking) is such an important issue because it has such an impact – health, academic, social, career-wise – for our students,” said Heidi Huber, counselor in the Wellness Center and member of the AAPC.

McDaniel College is a member of the Maryland Collaborative to Reduce College Drinking and Related Problems, which reports that 19 percent of underage and 22 percent of 21- to 24-year-old college students nationwide meet criteria for either alcohol abuse or dependence. Such statistics speak to the importance of alcohol education as part of the Late Nights program.

Holmes said awareness has “a huge impact on what students are doing,” encouraging them to make smarter choices.  To that end, Residence Life, the Department of Campus Safety and the Wellness Center work together with student leaders to organize Late Nights and raise students’ awareness of issues that can result from underage and binge drinking.

At the Late Night Carnival, for example, students who played Wii while wearing Campus Safety’s vision impairment goggles realized how difficult it is to win a game of MarioKart, let alone drive an actual car.

The trivia game during the Pub Party and the Jeopardy element of Late Night Battle of the Sexes each included questions about alcohol awareness and sexual health in addition to popular culture. Many students responding to surveys after these events said they had in fact learned something new.

Late Nights is just one of several opportunities where students are exposed to information about alcohol safety and campus policies. For the past three years, all first-year students have been required to complete an online alcohol education course, AlcoholEdu, before even stepping foot on the Hill.

“It begins to introduce them to the college’s expectations for their behavior,” said Liz Towle, associate dean of Student Affairs. She explained that students are able to make better decisions when they are given these opportunities to think situations through ahead of time.

Alcohol policy violations and alcohol-related medical emergencies have fallen 21 percent and 55 percent, respectively, when comparing fall 2011 and fall 2012, according to Towle. The AlcoholEdu post-test also shows that increasingly, more McDaniel students are choosing not to drink in the first place.

She explained that the course can be modified to include policies and resources specific to McDaniel, such as the Wellness Center, the Center for Experience and Opportunity and the Office of Student Engagement.  This information is also delivered to students during Orientation and First Year Seminar classes.

“Students are getting a stronger message that there are a lot of things here for them, and in essence, they just need to pick,” said Towle.