The answer is ‘c,’ a belly shot

News that they are going to be required to take an online alcohol abuse prevention course came as a surprise to a handful of freshmen roaming the Chico State campus earlier this week—although they did agree it was a good idea in light of the tragic events that clogged headlines over the last year and continue to hang over the university like a black cloud.

The university announced on Aug. 4 that first-time freshman will now be required to complete an online alcohol abuse prevention course—not only complete it, but pass it before they can register for spring 2006 classes. The university also announced it will notify the parents of those who violate alcohol policies in campus residence halls and will give students the boot after two violations.

Over the past few months, Chico State has stepped up its stance on the drinking culture that plagues universities across the nation after weathering a difficult year of student deaths, close calls and less-than-savory behavior—initiating a set of 59 guidelines to keep rowdy fraternities and sororities in check.

The AlcoholEdu course is actually nothing new at Chico State. The university has been using it since 2003 as a requirement for students—392 of them last year alone—who violated the school’s alcohol policy. The course, which will cost the university $60,000 for three years, will now be administered to the more than 2,000 incoming freshman this year.

Cassie Williams, who is set to start Chico State this semester, was on campus with her mother, Roxanne, the day the course was made available to students. The 18-year-old child development major had just received the letter in the mail informing her about the course. Williams said while it’s a good idea, she thinks more time should be given to complete the test.

The two-and-a-half-hour course was made available Aug. 9, with students having until Sept. 9 to pass the first portion. A 15- to 30-minute follow-up course must be completed by Oct. 14.

Williams’ mother said a family friend, who attends school in Southern California, took the course and was surprised by how much he learned.

“I just hope they pay attention,” she said.

One freshman hadn’t yet heard the news about the course. Dakota Duckey, making his way to the Meriam Library, said he wasn’t aware of the new requirement, but that he was aware of the events that made headlines across the country.

Duckey said he doesn’t look at the course as an inconvenience, but as a way of educating students on the possible dangers of binge-drinking.

“If nobody learns, they can go past that point and hurt themselves or others.”

The AlcoholEdu for College course was funded by the Boston-based company Outside The Classroom in 2000, and is currently being used by more than 350 colleges nationwide. University of California, Berkeley has also made the course a requirement of all first-time freshmen this year.

The course is preceded by a general survey to gauge how much a particular student drinks and how much alcohol-education they received in high school. The test portion then asks different scenario-based questions about the effects of alcohol. Students must score a 70 percent or above to pass.

Joe Wills, director of public affairs at Chico State, said the course isn’t tailored to be difficult and that students should have no problems.

“Students who actually sit through the test will pass it,” Wills said.

He said there is a concern about students not actually taking the time to take the course—adding that it may seem like overkill to some. Wills said the university is trying to target those who may not have received alcohol education in high school and explained that the course is only a small portion of the university’s attempt to reduce alcohol abuse among students.

“It’s by no means a cure-all,” he said. “It’s a piece of the puzzle.”