WORCESTER, Mass.–The new NCAA's Best of CHOICES Alcohol Education: 1998-2008 resource publication recognized Worcester Polytechnic Institute's (WPI) alcohol abuse prevention program as one of the top 10 in the nation during the past decade. WPI received this prestigious recognition for its use of NCAA grant funding and program support to address alcohol education on campus through a creative and engaging campaign. The Best of CHOICES Alcohol Education: 1998-2008 is designed to help colleges and universities across the United States improve the quality of their alcohol education programs. The publication is distributed to campuses nationwide.
In the past 10 years, 114 higher education institutions have been awarded three-year NCAA CHOICES campus-wide alcohol prevention grants to help integrate student athletes, athletics programs, and events into alcohol abuse prevention programs. Of those 114 schools, 10 (including WPI) were chosen to be featured as case profiles for the Best of CHOICES publication. Specifically, WPI was recognized for its "Engineering Choices" program, which targets all campus groups and works with student athletes to promote positive, long-term change in alcohol issues.
WPI was funded from 2004 to 2007 with a $30,000 grant. During that time, WPI launched a progressive poster campaign called "Green Bean Campaign," which used cans of green beans as an illustration for alcohol. The initial posters showed a can of green beans to gain interest, later asking students how many cans of green beans it takes to have a good time and then whether they would talk to someone who they knew had a "green bean problem." Green beans became an emblem of the program and were used in future communications and campaign materials. Since the CHOICES grants also looks to create opportunities for athletic departments to work with colleagues to raise visibility and strengthen community engagement in prevention efforts, WPI was also able to enhance its prevention efforts by incorporating fun and exciting campus activities and programs that attracted the attention of the campus and surrounding community.
The grant, coupled with the university's TIPS alcohol training program–through which more than 300 students per year are trained in alcohol intervention strategies–have helped encourage students to make wise choices about alcohol consumption, and have kept them safe, according to Gregory A. Snoddy, WPI's director of Healthy Alternatives, recreation, and club sports.
"It is wonderful that WPI’s alcohol abuse prevention initiatives are showcased as one of the nation's top 10 programs in the NCAA publication," Snoddy said. "The NCAA CHOICES grant provided a real boost to WPI's alcohol prevention, education, and intervention initiatives."
The university’s Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Program is coordinated through the Office of Healthy Alternatives, with strong and intentional involvement from the offices of Residential Services, Student Development and Counseling, the Health Center, and Student Activities. The innovative program integrates recreational activities, club sports involvement, and physical education classes with campus activities and preventative efforts via recreational facility usage, student activities involvement, and residence hall programs. A major focus of the Healthy Alternatives Program is the TIPS program, in which peers teach peers how to effectively intervene with their friends in situations where alcohol or drugs are present and to help students keep their friends safe.
"This is how we establish community at WPI," Snoddy said. "Ultimately, the goal is to promote the development of healthy habits, attitudes, and lifestyles regarding alcohol and drug-related issues, while engaging students in campus life. WPI students take care of each other."