U helps deal with alcohol

Elizabeth Cook

Boynton Health Service released in January information from a spring 2005 survey dealing with student-drinking trends.

The random survey was sent to 6,000 students and had a 50.7 percent response rate. It found that in the past 12 months, 85.5 percent of undergraduate students drank alcohol. Also, 74.8 percent said they drank in the past 30 days.

For students who want educational resources on drinking, legal advice on alcohol-related offenses or treatment for alcohol abuse, there are options through the University, or at least its insurance.

First-year students can take a one-credit, online class called Public Health 1003: Alcohol and College Life, which professor Jim Rothenberger said is a basic alcohol-orientation class.

Rothenberger said 40 percent of first-year students have not drank alcohol in the past two weeks. For those students, he said, it’s about reinforcing that abstinence, but for the other 60 percent it’s reinforcing safety.

Since some students have different learning styles, the class is available to watch, read or listen to in a downloadable MP3 format.

Lauren Wester, a first-year biology student, agreed high-risk drinking is a problem at the University.

Wester said she drinks now, but didn’t before college. Wester said she started drinking in college because she has a friend who does.

In residence halls, there are also educational programs throughout the semester, said Kevin Dostal Dauer, Residential Life coordinator.

Programs can include the effects of alcohol and making positive choices, Dostal Dauer said.

There are also educational options for students should they find themselves in legal trouble because of drinking.

University Police Department Lt. Troy Buhta said students who get livability citations, such as minor consumption, drinking in public or noisy assembly can have the offenses taken off their records if they go through the restorative justice program.

The program consists of a three- to five-member panel made up of people within the community that listens to the offender’s side of the story and then educates them on what their behavior does to the neighborhood, Buhta said.

Then, both sides decide on a punishment, which can be anything from community service, referral to an alcohol assessment or donations, Buhta said.

University Student Legal Service also can assist students who have had alcohol-related offenses, said Director Mark Karon.

Students can obtain the services of an attorney for no more than $75 in cases such as minor consumption, fake identification, buying alcohol for minors and driving while intoxicated.

If alcohol treatment is an option a student is considering, they can get a chemical health assessment at Boynton, said Dave Golden, the director of public health and marketing for Boynton.

A student would talk with Mary Roske-Groth, a Boynton clinical social worker and counselor, in a semi-structured environment, in which she asks questions regarding all aspects of his or her life. After that, recommendations are made for what type of action should be taken.

These can include seeking further counseling and not drinking for a while, exploring decisions or joining support groups on or off campus.

Another option is a health-promotion consultation. Roske-Groth said this course of action is not as extensive or scary as going to the mental health clinic.

Student insurance covers the initial assessment, Roske-Groth said. Later treatment is covered through co-pay between the student and his or her insurance provider.

If a student wanted to go to rehabilitation, there are no inpatient or outpatient services offered at Boynton, Golden said. But student insurance still would cover 80 percent of the first $10,000 spent. After that, insurance pays everything up to $3 million.