Towson University uses education to inform students about drinking

Towson University utilizes resources, such as the Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug Prevention Center and the Campus Activities Board, to educate students about alcohol and its effects and provide alternative options instead of partying. Towson University uses these programs to create solutions instead of aggressively attacking drinking on campus, which would create problems. After the University of Wisconsin at Stout increased its number of Friday classes and stepped up its police force to bust parties, the student rebelled against the movement.

The Green Turtle and Lil Dickys, two Towson bars, tempt many students.

Alcohol surrounds Towson students with local bars including The Crease and Lil Dickeys right up the street from campus and the other bars of Baltimore only minutes away. Drinking is a choice. Towson University supplies information to help its students make the best choice to prevent them from drinking.

“I think it’s kind of a tough question, there is no easy solution,” Dr. Tim Sullivan, Chair of the University Senate said, “I think it’s probably education. Students are adults and to provide them information to make informed choices. And I think you have to treat students with respect but give them the information and so they are aware of the fact that alcohol and alcohol abuse is damaging and there are costs to it, health costs and academic costs. But I think they’ve created an environment where students feel free to ask for help if they need help, where they get information. But I think to treat them as adults.”

It is easy to say that if Towson provides education and information about the damages of drinking, students will drink less. However, the administration provides alternatives to parties and bars, students will drink less. One solution is the Campus Activities Board.

“CAB doesn’t actively do anything to reduce drinking at Towson University, May Medallada, Director of CAB, said, “CAB is the Programming Branch of the Student Government, and we plan events on campus. Most of our events are free or low cost. These events provide alternatives for students who don’t want to sit alone in their dorms at night, and I guess they could also provide fun alternatives for those students who don’t want to go to parties and/or bars. However, some of our events, such as concerts in Paws and Tigerfest, actually serve alcohol and permit those who are 21+ to drink at our events.”

With Tigerfest this Saturday, many precautions will be taken.

“At Tigerfest, we do have a designated area (the Beer Garden) for people who are 21+,” Medallada continued, “There is a 3 beer limit to prevent people from getting out of hand. Also, no one is allowed to bring plastic bottles or alcohol or anything like that. No one can consume alcohol outside of the designated Beer Garden. This is mostly for safety purposes though. In the past, people have gotten drunk and thrown bottles and different things at the artists on stage. So we are just trying to prevent future incidents like that.”

CAB has done well with providing students with other options instead of getting drunk every weekend. However, there still are students who feel the need to drink heavily on weekends. Towson also provides those students with an opportunity to receive information about alcohol abuse through the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Prevention Center.

“If a student has a “drinking problem,” then the student needs counseling help, Dr. Donna Cox, Ph. D., Director of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Prevention Center, said, ” The Center is focused on prevention and education. Students can get counseling assistance by contacting the campus Counseling Center.”

The ATOD Prevention Center not only provides information about drinking and its consequences, but also gives insight into the facts about drinking at Towson.

“We also want to correct misperceptions that people have about the number and percentage of people who use the drug,” Cox continued, “For example, while nearly ¾ of Towson students report that they believe TU students use alcohol 10 or more days a month, less than a 1/5th actually drink with that frequency.  If people believe that “everyone” does something, there is a tendency to want to be like others. Another very important strategy is to make students aware that as adults, they need to be responsible for their own decisions.”

As of right now, Towson University relies on CAB and the ATOD and has not taken the extreme measures that the University of Wisconsin at Stout has recently taken, because there is no need. On-campus dorms are regulated for underage drinking and shuttles run during the night to prevent drinking and driving.

It is inevitable that drinking will be a part of the “college experience.” The major question is how much will the student allow it to be in his or her own college career.

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