HAYS, KS -- National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week began Sunday, Oct. 15, in an ongoing effort to change attitudes and perceptions about campus drinking.
Monday, Oct. 16, Dr. Edward H. Hammond, president of Fort Hays State University and national chairman of NCAAW, flew to Jackson, MS, for the official kickoff of the event, which runs through Oct. 21.
The NCAAW has grown to become the largest single event on this subject because students take charge of designing and implementing activities for their campus communities.
"What has set this program apart and contributed to its growth is its approach," said Hammond, "Ultimately, this isn't about alcohol, but attitudes."
The week is promoted by the Inter Association Task Force on Alcohol and Other Substance Abuse Issues, an umbrella organization of higher education associations dedicated to promoting education, prevention, research, networking and national initiatives to help eliminate substance abuse and the problems it causes on college and university campuses.
"We don't preach, we teach," said Hammond. "We educate and we empower students to take responsibility for their own decisions and environment. Participation in NCAAW helps students and college administrators launch and/or strengthen year around prevention efforts."
The awareness week is based on acquiring data on actual campus alcohol consumption and using that data to counteract false perceptions about alcohol consumption.
"We need to do a better job of showing college students, particularly new students, that most of their peers are not abusing alcohol and making bad decisions," said Dr. Constantine W. Curris, president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, one of the lead associations of the task force.
"We have a responsibility to tell students that making healthy choices is the true norm based on campus research," said Curris.
"Then we can begin changing attitudes and behavior."