Fall Observance of National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week
In October, college and university students will join with their peers on more than 1,000 campuses across the country to promote National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week (NCAAW). During NCAAW, students have the opportunity to participate in a variety of events, all designed by the campus’ peer education group to reinforce personal responsibility and respect for current state laws and school policies when it comes to the consumption of alcohol beverages.

NCAAW has grown to become the largest single event in all of academia because students take ownership in designing and implementing this observance for their campus communities. This week gives campuses the opportunity to showcase healthy lifestyles free from the abuse or illegal use of alcohol and to combat negative stereotypes of college drinking behavior.

"NCAAW remains a cornerstone in campus alcohol abuse prevention efforts," said Drew Hunter, President and CEO of The BACCHUS Network™, a national nonprofit organization that supports student health and safety through peer education.

"Ultimately, campuses need to educate students about excessive drinking and consequences that can occur on both a personal and academic level. All college and university offices need to empower students to take responsibility for their own decisions and the campus environment when it comes to alcohol. Participation in NCAAW helps students and college administrator’s work together to increase awareness and strengthen year-round prevention efforts. We have to engage and empower students to take care of themselves and each other."

NCAAW is promoted by the Inter-Association Task Force on Alcohol and Other Substance Abuse Issues. This coalition of higher education associations is dedicated to promoting education, prevention, research, networking, and national initiatives to help eliminate substance abuse and the problems it causes on our college and university campuses. The BACCHUS Network is one of the member associations of the Task Force.

College administrators play a vital role in working with students to educate them about alcohol.

"We need to do a better job of showing college students - particularly new students - that most of their peers are not abusing alcohol and most are making healthy and safe decisions," said Andrea Zelinko, Director of Alcohol Abuse and Impaired Driving Prevention Initiatives.

"Students want to fit in and follow campus norms. If we incorrectly lead them to believe that everyone is getting drunk on a regular basis, then that's what they will do. We have a responsibility to educate students about drinking, to help them develop the skills to adopt lower-risk drinking behaviors, including the choice to not drink. We need to inform students that the majority of their peers are engaging in healthy choices and responsible behavior when it comes to alcohol. Then, we can begin changing attitudes and behavior."

NCAAW activities vary from campus to campus, but typically include informative presentations and social events that promote responsibility and healthy, safe decisions about alcohol. For additional information, visit at the Inter-Association Task Force Web Site at www.iatf.org For campaign educational materials for NCAAW and alcohol abuse and impaired driving prevention, visit www.bacchusnetwork.org