(Posted September 20, 2010)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- One of the most pressing issues on college and university campuses this fall is alcohol abuse and how to prevent college students from falling into unsafe and unhealthy behaviors. At Juniata College, first-year students are using an online prevention program called AlcoholEdu to learn how to refrain from alcohol abuse.

In addition, the college received a $13,280 grant by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to support the board's mission to prevent underage and high-risk alcohol use.

"At the end of the online course, students are required to pass an exam. Here at the college, we are requiring our students to get at least 85 percent on the test to pass."

Dan Cook-Huffman, assistant dean of students

All Juniata freshmen will participate in AlcoholEdu as part of the freshman College Writing Seminar. In addition, all freshmen will participate in a Monitoring the Future survey, a long-term study on drug and alcohol use in the United States sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The students will take the survey at the beginning of the semester and again on Nov. 18.

"At the end of the online course, students are required to pass an exam," explains Dan Cook-Huffman, assistant dean of students. "Here at the college, we are requiring our students to get at least 85 percent on the test to pass."

According to statistics from the Monitoring the Future survey, drinking among seniors in high school has decreased every year from 1998 to 2008, a cumulative 13 percent. Within the past decade more students are abstaining from drinking. In 1999, 49 percent of seniors surveyed abstained from drinking, while in 2009 57 percent of seniors abstained.

By participating in the survey, Juniata can track the attitudes of its incoming students toward alcohol use. In addition, the poll tracks activities students opt to participate in as well as student interest in events that do not focus on alcohol.

The Liquor Control Board Grant will fund several initiatives, including
a campaign that reinforces the social norms for drinking in moderation, funding alternatives to alcohol use activities at various campus events." The grant also will fund a project focused on Calvert's, which is a fine-dining small part of Juniata's Baker refectory open only on weekends. Juniata's Health and Wellness center and Student Activities Board will create alcohol-free activities focused around Calvert's.

The liquor control board awarded more than $900,000 in funding to 65 colleges and universities or local organizations to fund community-based initiatives. Since 1999, the PLCB has awarded more than $4.5 million in grants to 246 organizations to fund prevention programs focused on underage alcohol consumption, as well as initiatives supporting under-age drinking law-enforcement investigations.

"The PLCB remains committed to the fight against alcohol misuse and abuse," says Jerry Waters Sr., director of the Liquor Control Board's Office of Regulatory Affairs. "So long as binge drinking among college students and other misuse of alcohol remain a problem in Pennsylvania communities, we will support research and programs to address it."

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.