SWAAT away the alcohol

The SWAAT Program, a series of informational meetings designed to teach students about alcohol-related issues, will hold its final meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 6.

Each meeting that has taken place has covered different issues including alcohol consumption and drinking and driving.

“The SWAAT Program is something we began two years ago with the Alcohol Abuse Initiative,” Health Programming Coordinator Michelle Lovering said. “It’s basically a series of educational opportunities aimed to provide specific information within the first six weeks of each semester.”

According to the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, a research-based organization that provides the program with practical ways to address alcohol abuse, the first six weeks of the semester is the most high-risk time for students.

“The first six weeks is when a lot of issues come up for students, especially incoming freshmen,” Lovering said. “While the program is somewhat targeted to freshmen, it doesn’t just apply to them. The program is designed as a way to learn more in hopes that students will make more responsible decisions.”

While Lovering said the program administrators are not “alcohol haters,” she said one of the main purposes of the series is to inform students about responsible consumption of alcohol.

“We promote zero consumption for underage drinkers, and we like to teach students to make responsible choices,” she said. “It’s alcohol abuse that is really a problem, not alcohol itself.”

The various sessions have included a Virtual Bar event, in which students picked specific drinks to theoretically drink at different speeds.

“The purpose of the Virtual Bar was to show students how many drinks in what amount of time would affect their blood alcohol concentration,” Lovering said. “It basically had to do with binge drinking.”

Lovering said another session was based on the misperceptions surrounding alcohol use and abuse during college.

“There are certain perceived social norms on college campuses, including what students think everyone else is doing and how media portrays college life,” Lovering said. “I know there’s a perception that students drink a lot more than they actually do.”

While there is only one meeting left in this semester’s series, Lovering said she encouraged any and all interested students to attend Tuesday’s event.

“We certainly wouldn’t want the students to miss the opportunity to make the last one,” she said. “The interpreters will do a rather funny play about the consequences of dating while intoxicated and about how communication is impaired while under the influence of alcohol. We’ll also be giving out prizes including condom compacts, because we’re trying to tell those that participate that sober sex is safer.”

Lovering said students will have more opportunities to attend alcohol-related events if they go to the National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week.

“We’ll post the schedule for that week soon, but it should be going on in October,” she said.

For more information, contact Lovering at (936) 294-4347.

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