Members of Greek life at Boston University participated in the first-ever mandatory alcohol safety training program Wednesday evening.
University of Washington professor and researcher Jason Kilmer, assistant director of UW’s Health and Wellness for Alcohol in the Division of Student Life, spoke to students in the Metcalf Ballroom at the George Sherman Union about the effects of alcohol and the ways to reduce risks associated with alcohol consumption.
“What I would hope students took away from tonight is the knowledge of how alcohol affects their body and the role that they can have in making sure their brothers [in fraternities], their sisters [in sororities] — everyone — is safe,” said BU Student Health Services Director of Wellness and Prevention Services Elizabeth Douglas.
Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore said the alcohol safety training was necessary for the BU Greek life community after the alcohol-related death of a student last year.
In March, College of Engineering freshman Anthony Barksdale II died after being medically transported to a hospital from a Sigma Alpha Mu function in Allston. Both BU officials and the Sigma Alpha Mu national chapter subsequently suspended BU’s chapter.
“This [workshop] is about trying to make sure that people are a little bit more deliberate about thinking on [the topic of] alcohol use and looking after each other,” Elmore said.
The information Kilmer shared with students during the presentation will help students be more aware of the risks associated with drinking, Elmore said.
“I hope that people have some facts that are going to helpful to a continued conversation about it,” he said. “And I hope that it will make people a little bit more mindful in social situations about their own drinking — if they choose to do so — and about keeping an eye on each other when they see other people who are drinking.”
While students may have already heard some of what Kilmer said during his presentation, the knowledge about the effects of alcohol will help students to put more thought into making smart decisions regarding alcohol use, Elmore said.
“He’s [Kilmer] all about the science and the data behind aspects of college drinking,” he said.
Kilmer spoke about the physiological effects of alcohol and how alcohol influences the decision-making process during the program.
“The whole thing [presentation] tonight was a packaged deal,” Kilmer said. “It was the information on how alcohol affects men and women, the information on absorption and oxidization, looking at what goes along with different blood alcohol content levels.”
At the beginning of his presentation, Kilmer informed students about how much beer, wine and hard liquor is considered to be in a single standard alcoholic drink. He said it is important for students to consider not only what they are drinking, but also the container they are drinking from.
“One of the things we talked about is making sure you’re considering what you do call a drink,” Kilmer said. “If someone says, ‘I’m going to have two drinks tonight,’ and it’s two big red cups that are half mixer, half hard alcohol, that’s potentially a very scary night for someone.”
Students should be aware that alcoholic tolerance depends largely on whether someone is drinking in a familiar area, Kilmer said. Alcohol tends to affect people more in unfamiliar environments.
For those under the influence of alcohol, research has proven that nothing other than time can help sober someone up, Kilmer said.
“The most I heard people say [tonight] was when I asked people if there were ways to sober up more quickly,” he said. “Tons of answers were yelled out, and, of course, the data shows that there is nothing [except time].”
Overall, students should do their best to know their limits and watch out for the safety of those around them, he said.
“Have a sense of what works for you or what works less well,” Kilmer said. “It’s also making sure that you’re looking out for yourself and also looking out for other people, too.”