Freshmen get alcohol education before they start classes

PULLMAN, WA/MOSCOW, ID - Last school year, both the University of Idaho and Washington State University created task forces to combat unsafe drinking behaviors among their students, and as a result, the school has made some changes to their alcohol education programs.

As freshmen arrive on a new college campus, they're forced to make many decisions, including whether or not to drink alcohol.

"We certainly encourage people under the age of 21 to obey the law, but we have to acknowledge the reality, that people are going to go ahead and drink," said WSU Executive Director of Health and Wellness Services Bruce Wright

Washington State University administrators have implemented a new set of policies to encourage safe drinking behaviors.

"Our biggest goal, frankly, is to prevent alcohol and drug related harm," said Wright.

WSU has updated their Booze, Sex and Reality Checks program. Freshmen will work in smaller groups, and watch interactive demonstrations, such as how much alcohol or beer is in a single drink.

"Just pure information doesn't really to work," said Wright. "What does seem to work is having intelligent, engaged conversations."

There will also be stricter disciplinary measures. WSU will inform parents when their student violates drinking policies, even if it's just a first offense.

"We found evidence that parents matter," said Wright.

Over at the University of Idaho, the incoming freshmen will click their way through an alcohol orientation.

"It's a different way of delivering some material that we've presented in the past," said U of I Associate Dean of Students Craig Chatriand. "It's an online education program called, 'Think About It.' And it educated students on alcohol and drug use, sexual assault, healthy relationships, and bystander intervention."

Officials said the online format allows them to ensure that every freshman completes the program, and it allows them to arrive on campus with the safety tips in mind.

"The first six weeks of a semester are critical transition periods for students, so we want them to have this education and this information as soon as they can before they get to our campus," said Chatriand.

Washington State University is also considering phasing out fraternity freshman housing, because their Alcohol Task Force studies showed that freshman boys in the Greek Community are the most likely students to abuse alcohol.