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Some freshmen find AlcoholEdu online course unhelpful

Boston University freshmen are in the process of completing the second part of an online required alcohol education program implemented for the first time this year, officials said.

AlcoholEdu for College is a prevention program that aims to inform students of risks associated with alcohol consumption, said Student Health Services Director of Wellness and Prevention Services Elizabeth Douglas.

“Part Two is a very brief follow up session for students to go through now that they are on campus,” Douglas said. “It reinforces the information and lower-risk decision making and strategies highlighted in Part One.” Students must complete the 15-minute follow-up section of the program by Oct. 7, which Douglas said allows them time to adjust to life on campus, make their own decisions and then check in with the program to reevaluate and strategize safe solutions for the future.

Because BU will not receive aggregate results of the program until later in the year, it is hard to tell if the program has had an impact on student responses, Douglas said.

AlcoholEdu is used by hundreds of universities across the country, according to the online course’s website. It also educates students about alcohol-related safety issues while acquiring information about the drinking habits of its own student population.

BU freshmen were required to complete the first part of AlcoholEdu before arriving on campus for the fall semester.

“Part One of the online course, which first-years finished before the start of classes, suggests ways to continue drinking safely or be smarter about drinking behaviors,” said Students for Sensible Drug Policy President Melanie Kirsh.

BU likely chose to implement AlcoholEdu because it is widely used among U.S. schools and colleges, she said.

“They [the administration] are acknowledging that students drink and use drugs,” Kirsh, a College of Arts and Sciences sophomore, said. “This is a way to gauge what the actual statistics are.”

While students’ anonymous responses provide BU officials with information about alcohol use on campus, AlcoholEdu also allows the administration to advise students on safer drinking habits, Kirsh said.

“It’s the way for the administration to say, ‘Okay, well, let’s look at how this is working out or not working out, and let’s adjust gears a little bit, and get you on the right track,’” she said. “They’re trying to guide them [students] to sensible thinking.”

Students, however, offered mixed opinions on the efficacy of the online program.

College of Engineering freshman Ellen Latsko said she learned little new information from AlcoholEdu.

“I didn’t really anticipate it being useful because I learned a lot of these things in high school,” she said. “… It’s good that they [the administration] have taken a step to try to inform people, but I don’t know that it was that effective.”

School of Education freshman Amelia Graber-Lipperman also said she learned much of the material in high school classes.

“Most of it was common knowledge,” she said. “It’s going to help people that want to be helped and not affect people who don’t want to listen to the advice … I didn’t really get anything out of it.”

ENG freshman Alex Vahid said he found some of the information to be helpful and relevant.

“My initial reaction was: ‘I don’t really want to do this, just something that I’m going to have to just do and get it over with,’” he said. “There were a few facts here and there …  I can see how it could come in handy.”

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