All 23 CSU campuses to use program to fight alcohol abuse

awareLONG BEACH — California State University Chancellor Timothy White is dedicated to implementing the “Aware Awake Alive” peer-to-peer program statewide to all 23 campuses as an alcohol awareness tool for students.

The online program teaches students how to identify and act on the symptoms of alcohol poisoning. It will be one of the numerous tools California State University campuses will employ to curb alcohol abuse.

“The information that is provided through the materials is used to empower students to actually recognize the signs of alcohol poisoning and identify the emergency circumstances,” said Erik Fallis, media relations specialist at the CSU.

The chancellor also committed the CSU to translating the “Aware Awake Alive” into Spanish and that campus student leaders will receive training from the team at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo.

“Aware Awake Alive” started in 2011 at that campus and has expanded to more than 50 campuses nationwide and a couple in Canada, said David Wyatt, communications director for the program.

The program is co-founded by Scott and Julia Starkey, the parents of a student who died of alcohol poisoning, Wyatt said. Their son, Carson Starkey, was an 18-year-old freshman at Cal Poly when he died in 2008.

The freshman wanted to join a fraternity and drank an immense amount of hard liquor as part of a hazing ritual and never woke up. The Starkeys co-founded the “Aware Awake Alive” program in Carson’s memory, and his story is shared with every student who uses the tool.

The program is peer-driven, rather than being taught by administrators and teachers.

“It’s meant for peers to start conversation and changes the culture of what alcohol poisoning is,” Wyatt said.

One of the things the program does is educate students about the 9-1-1 legislation, said Andrene Kaiwi-Lenting, assistant director for student life and leadership at Cal Poly. The legislation protects the person who calls emergency services for an underage person who has consumed alcohol.

“This is letting students know that it’s more important to help your friend than to worry about getting in trouble,” Kaiwi-Lenting said. “We really try to make sure that students know to call 9-1-1.”

Students are also taught how to monitor heart rates, breathing patterns and how to perform CPR if necessary, she said.

“I would attribute the education we’ve given students in an increase in making that call and getting our students help,” Kaiwi-Lenting said.

The program has also implemented a bystander intervention campaign, which encourages students to intervene with people who have been drinking excessively and show sign of alcohol poisoning.

Since the program began at Cal Poly, 43 percent of students say they intervene when they see something wrong, Wyatt said. The national average across college campuses is 33 percent.

“People are definitely noticing that alcohol poisoning can kill,” he said.

Chico State University has implemented the “Aware Awake Alive” program prior to the statewide initiative, said Trisha Seastrom, program director at the university’s Campus Alcohol and Drug Education.

“One of the great things is that we can implement it with our existing programs,” Seastrom said. “It will be a great evidence-based tool we can have in our tool belt.”

Peer-to-peer programs have proven to be an effective approach to educate college-aged students about alcohol, she said.

Seastrom plans on implementing the program more throughout the next school year.

“We’re still brainstorming ways that we may implement other aspects of that great toolbox that is ‘Aware, Awake, Alive’,” Seastrom said. Article Link…

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