|by Corey Asay '05 • February 11, 2005|
After attending a national conference on alcohol consumption on college campuses, two Little Giant football players hope to lead the way to getting some Wabash students to think differently about drinking.
"Alcohol and alcohol related problems are the number-one concern for college students all over the nation," said Brandon Clifton, founder of Wabash Against Drunk Driving (WADD).
Clifton, a senior, started Wabash Against Drunk Driving – or WADD for short – because of his nascent concern about the alcohol related problems that many college students face. Also, Clifton had some personal experience with alcohol related troubles and wanted to help others before they placed themselves in bad situations.
"I was tired of waiting around for something to happen," he said. "As cliché as it sounds, I just wanted to help students to keep from making some of the mistakes others have in the past."
In addition to founding WADD, Clifton attended the January Athletic Prevention Programming and Leadership Education convention in Long Beach, California. He accompanied junior Chris Ogden, Associate Dean of Students Mike Raters, and Wabash nurse Carol Lamb.
The APPLE program began 14 years ago at the University of Virginia as a means of getting student-athletes out among the student body to promote good examples of responsible college students.
Trainer Jack Mansfield first approached Dean Raters about pursuing a program that would allow students to model positive behavior in regards to alcohol and drugs.
Dean Raters admits, however, there is not a burning concern that Wabash students are heavily abusing drugs and alcohol.
"I wouldn’t say there’s a big concern; what we have right now is a trend towards being more intentional about a lot of the things we do," he said. "Drinking alcohol is a part of college life, so we want to make sure that if that’s going to occur, then we’re doing it responsibly."
The APPLE conference, WADD, and those involved all speak in unison when it comes to alcohol use; they are not trying to eliminate drinking from the campus, but are encouraging those who do use alcohol to drink responsibly.
"In no way shape or form are we trying to say, ‘stop drinking,’" Clifton said. "Just be aware of the choices you’re making because they can either have positive effects or negative effects."
Since those who attended the APPLE conference are not in the business of ridding the campus of alcohol, they have come up with some practical programs to provide drinking awareness. The agenda tentatively includes drink alternatives at parties and student mentors.
"Student mentors would basically work as the medium between the faculty and the students," Ogden said. "They would be there to identify problems and would be trained in peer counseling."
In addition, bars that don’t serve alcohol would be set up at parties.
Although the students hope that others also see the harm that alcohol can have when not used responsibly, they realize there are those skeptics who will simply not listen to their message."
"90 percent of the people that you talk to won’t listen, but it’s the one person you can reach that’s going to mean a lot to me," Clifton said. "I know how that sounds, but I mean it."
WADD meetings are held in the LGR, but times vary according to IM schedules.
Asay is a writer for the Bachelor, Wabash College's student newspaper.