A.lcohol A.wareness:

Although alcohol is prevalent on campus at all times of the year, April happens to be Alcohol Awareness Month. To increase alcohol abuse awareness, on April 10 at 7 p.m. at Fleming 101, a screening of the Shaken & Stirred UVM film contest will take place, the cap?stone of the month’s alcohol-related events. In addition, new information about protective measures will be distributed, according to Diana Gonzalez, Alcohol and Other Drugs Education Director. However, UVM will not be scheduling much programming for the month of April, choosing not to divert too much attention from their larger goal of subtly shifting campus alcohol culture. “Alcohol is an issue at UVM’s campus all year round, not just in April,” Gonzalez said. Vivian Garay, Assistant Dean for Retention and Assesment, echoed this sentiment.”[Alcohol Awareness Month] builds upon the work that we’re already trying to do,” she said. “It can be helpful in that it organizes people around a particular issue,” Gonzalez said. Still, she acknowledged, “a lot of alcohol awareness programs are pretty lame.”Garay spoke of wanting to “do things that send more subtle messages,” pointing to the dry hall policy, which, though it does not necessarily curtail drinking, “conveys a message of expectation about behavior.”According to the UVM police services Web site, in fall 2007, 59 students were sent to detox. 76.2 percent had blood alcohol contents of greater than .16.”Part of the UVM culture is that people kind of accept alcohol as part of the college experience … Students don’t question the degree that people misuse alcohol,” Garay said.Junior Daniel Turgeon sees the logic in Alcohol Awareness month. “I think alcohol awareness is important in the sense that it teaches how to do it responsibly, teaches what implications there are if it’s not,” he said.However, he is unconvinced of the unilateral wrongness of drinking culture.”I think it [alcohol use] is either positive or negative, depending on the situation and the people involved,” he said, adding that he felt UVM did not have a significantly different drinking culture than any other college. Garay concurred, noting that, “every school has these issues.”However, she added, “the northeast has historically had significantly higher drinking levels than all other sections of the country.” She speculated that because Vermont is in the northeast, and draws significantly from surrounding states, this could be a factor in heavy drinking among students and a comparatively pervasive alcohol culture.Though Alcohol Awareness Month may not significantly change UVM students’ drinking, a little awareness can go a long way.”Even if we reach one or two people, that’s good. Particularly on our campus, students don’t question what their friends are doing and how it impacts them,” Garay said.”If one person says, ‘Maybe I should talk to my friend about how much he’s been drinking,’ that’s worth it. That’s meaningful.”