Following a series of alcohol-related student deaths on campus, students at the University of Wisconsin-Stout will be required to assess their personal alcohol use through a policy change aimed at increasing awareness.
Several years ago, San Diego State University created e-Chug, a personalized assessment that examines an individual’s alcohol use by asking questions related to frequency of use and how much the individual is consuming, said Jacob Bloom, UW-Stout Alcohol and Other Drug Program coordinator.
The goal of the assessment is for students to gain general information and basic education about alcohol so they are able to make educated decisions regarding their consumption to keep themselves and their friends safe, Bloom said. The university hopes to address misconceptions about social norms on alcohol.
“Students, and people in general, have a tendency to overestimate unhealthy behaviors and underestimate healthy behaviors,” Bloom said.
Administrators recognize that an abstinence-based approach does not generally yield results. With e-Chug, students can see where they fall and make decisions themselves, Bloom said.
According to a UW-Stout statement, program completion is required for spring class registration. The results will not be shared with the university or used in research, but are intended to give students an opportunity to look at where they match up on a personal scale compared to nationwide benchmarks, the statement said.
Bloom said e-Chug has been instituted at more than 550 universities and colleges because it has been proven to yield successful results. UW-Stout has used e-Chug for the past five years, but the program did not become a mandatory assessment until this year.
The campus has experienced a string of alcohol-related deaths in recent years, the most recent of which occurred last fall when a student died as a result of injuries sustained in an assault. According to a UW-Stout statement, six students have died from alcohol incidence in the last three years.
UW-Stout is the first school in Wisconsin to make e-Chug mandatory for all first-year students, Bloom said.
Currently, the University of Wisconsin’s campus does not require incoming freshmen to complete the e-Chug assessment or a mandatory alcohol education program. The Chancellor’s Alcohol Policy Group is investigating possibilities for a universal educational prevention program, said Tom Sieger, University Health Services director of prevention services and campus health initiatives.
Director of Student Assistance Kipp Cox said UW has used e-Chug for several years as part of the Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students program.
Involvement in the BASICS program is a consequence for individuals who have received multiple alcohol related offenses or been transported to detox.
Cox said there are two forms of BASICS: Individual sessions, which involves working with an alcohol counselor, and group BASICS, which places participants in a group discussion.
The programs include two sessions over a duration of two weeks. Individual BASICS implements e-Chug as a component of the program, Sieger said.
“We need to have different tools in our toolbox to address situations,” Cox said.