Loyola University Maryland's alcohol and drug education and support services office (ADESS) is using a two-year, $169,216 U.S. Department of Education grant to further the University's efforts to build community and offer students additional alternatives to alcohol use.
The funds are allowing grant co-directors Cynthia Parcover, assistant director of ADESS, and Allie Pealman Sax, associate director of ADESS, with the support of Joseph Ciarrocchi, Ph.D., professor of pastoral counseling, to develop and implement a training program grounded in the concepts of motivational interviewing, an evidence-based counseling approach to eliciting individual behavior change. This training is provided to students and employees who work with first-year students, including resident assistants, orientation leaders, academic advisors, and student development administrators, on how to engage those students in meaningful, influential conversations about difficult topics. Research indicates that students who have these types of conversations make healthier decisions. Parcover and Pearlman Sax have already trained more than 250 individuals in the Loyola community.
The two are also developing a coalition of Baltimore community members such as representatives from other colleges and universities, business owners, members of the city liquor board, and the Baltimore City Police Department to work together to address the issues surrounding underage drinking from a policy perspective.
The grant has already helped Loyola's student-led OPTIONS club enjoy a significant increase in resources for planning activities designed to create affordable, alcohol-free events and programs, as well as to attract greater first-year student involvement in those activities, which often include bowling nights, trips to Broadway shows, amusement park excursions, and more. Funds from the grant have both subsidized program costs and increased marketing resources.
Parcover and Pearlman Sax recognize the important role organizations like OPTIONS play in encouraging students to participate in healthy social activities. "OPTIONS offers students these terrific activities at an outrageously low cost—they essentially are providing students with an option they can't refuse," said Parcover. This type of programming is particularly important for first-year students. "We want students, as early as possible, to build ties with other students who embrace alcohol-free activities as regular and valuable parts of their lives," said Pearlman Sax.
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