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5/17/2006 Linfield alcohol education program receives $30,000 grant

McMINNVILLE --A new alcohol education program led by students will be implemented at Linfield College thanks to a grant awarded to the college by the NCAA Choices program.

The Health, Human Performance and Athletics Department, chaired by Professor of Health and Human Performance Dawn Graff-Haight, received a three-year, $30,000 grant to fund a student-led alcohol education program.

The goal of the program is to increase student involvement in alcohol education programs, said Susan Chambers, adjunct professor of health and human performance and one of the four grant writers. Others involved in the grant were Graff-Haight, Wellness Coordinator Christina Ries and senior health education major Kyffin Marcum.

The Informed Choices program will consist of a new two-credit peer education class, an increase in late-night alcohol-free campus activities and an expansion of the current media campaign aimed at lowering high-risk drinking behaviors.

"Our approach is, 'If you drink, think safety,'" said Chambers. "Research suggests that students base their own behavior on what they think other students are doing. With alcohol use, there's a huge misperception about what students do."

She said she hopes to enroll at least one student leader from a wide variety of campus groups, including athletic teams, Residence Life, Greek organizations and Associated Students of Linfield College.

Ideally, Chambers said, students will take over leadership roles in the class and expand the program to include presentations at local high schools. She said that the most effective way of reaching young people is through their peers.

Additional student involvement will come from two work-study positions. One will focus on coordinating diverse activities to complement ASLC's current programming, and the other will expand the media campaign.

Chambers said that Linfield's approach is unique among colleges.

"This is one of the most effective methods of combating high-risk drinking, but it is costly and time-consuming so not many colleges do it," said Chambers. "It's an approach to alcohol prevention that has been shown to change people's behavior."

She added that all components of the Informed Choices program are based on giving resources to students to make healthy decisions. For example, a student can calculate how many calories they drink a week or how much money they spend on alcohol each month.

"It's intended to give students as much information as it can and then leave the decision up to them," she said.