UI to save nearly $30K with AlcoholEdu replacement

BY JORDYN REILAND | MAY 02, 2012 6:30 AM

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The University of Iowa's $30,600-a-year contract with AlcoholEdu has expired, leading officials to invest in a new alcohol-safety program at a fraction of the cost.


UI officials said the move to eCHECKUP TO GO after disappointment with unchanging student behavior.

"We were just not seeing the results that we wanted for the cost," said Stephanie Beecher, UI health educator at Health Iowa/Student Health Service.

ECHECKUP TO GO, developed by the San Diego State University Research Foundation, will cost the university $975 per year.

The UI had a three-year contract with AlcoholEdu.

Officials said they believed students did not apply what they learned through AlcoholEdu because the program was too impersonal.

"Immediately students can relate to [eCHECKUP UP TO GO] because it relates it to their own behaviors," Beecher said, and the program takes considerably less time than AlcoholEdu's roughly three-hour program.

UI health officials piloted eCHECKUP TO GO at the beginning of 2012 to first-year and transfer students and received student feedback indicating they would only drink occasionally, keep the number of drinks to a minimum, and keep busy with daily activities that do not involve alcohol.

The 15-minute program asks students about their drinking habits and personal goals, giving them feedback if there signs of poor behavior.

However, mandatory programs are not the only options — some Big Ten universities offer different approaches to alcohol reduction on campus.

The University of Minnesota offers a one-semester-hour online class to freshmen and sophomores — Alcohol and College Life — which provides basic knowledge about the transition from high school to college through video modules and interactive lessons.

Though the class is not mandatory, Shannon Gwash, associate director of outreach and communications at the university, said roughly 1,000 students enrolled in 2011.

"Oftentimes students don't like being told what to do, especially if it's one of those things where they come into school and it's their first time making their own decisions," she said.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison takes a less classroom-focused approach.

When first-year students are admitted to the school and attend orientation, they and their parents are given a presentation on campus expectations by Health Service staff and university police.

"We are spending more time on preparing students and being more open with the dialogue," said Darcy Wittberger, a communications coordinator for the Center for the First-Year Experience at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Beecher said programs such as these are aimed to make sure students are aware of expectations before they attend college.

"We just don't know what education they are getting before they come to campus," she said. "We want to make sure everyone is on the same page."

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