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National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week

Hosted by: SFSU Health Promotion and Wellness

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Please briefly describe your Communities Talk activity.

Our student leaders and a health educator at Health Promotion & Wellness from our Substance Use Education team put on a week-long series of events related to collegiate alcohol awareness. We made sure that most events could be accessed in person or through virtual or asynchronous modes to accommodate our students’ complex learning environments.

The series of events started on October 9 and ended on October 28. We started with a 5K walk around Lake Merced to raise awareness about drinking and driving. We posted flyers for students to join us in creating signage and shared a link for students to engage and participate in the 5-mile walk physically with us or virtually from their homes. We partnered with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and were even named co-champions from their 2021 MADD Collegiate Championship.

In addition to the awareness walk, our team hosted an Instagram Live event through our @sfstatecares and @suppsfsu platforms. The Live event was titled “Binge Drinking and College Students,” and our peer educators focused on debunking misconceptions about alcohol social norms and educating on serving sizes. On Tuesday, October 19, we hosted Game Day at the Quad and displayed our posters and art surrounding alcohol education. We played games and engaged with over 100 students. For a slideshow deck of our work, click here.

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How does underage drinking and substance misuse affect your community?

Most college students are in a transitionary age in which they are still finding themselves. Unfortunately, the media and our environment are ever-present and overwhelm our youth with ideas of who they should be, how they should act, and whom to associate with. In addition, exposure to alcohol in the home can lead to binge drinking and worse. It is our role, as a harm reduction-focused organization, to ensure that students who have identified as being exposed to alcohol have the adequate knowledge, attitudes, and skills to make the best choices for themselves. Based on the San Francisco State University Executive Summary, on our campus, 67 percent of students indicated having ever used alcohol, while nearly 60 percent indicated use within the past three months. Our obligation to the students is to provide them with as much information and support as possible to allow them to make the healthiest decisions for themselves.

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What goal(s) did you hope to accomplish with your Communities Talk activity?

  • Reduce prevalence of underage drinking and other substances in community
  • Create an ongoing conversation about underage drinking and substance use prevention in the community
  • Foster collaboration between community stakeholders for continued underage drinking and substance use prevention activities
  • Create new resources/materials (e.g., publications, handouts, factsheets, videos, graphics) to support prevention of underage drinking and misuse of other substances
  • Awareness and enforcement of social host laws) to support prevention of underage drinking
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Who did you involve in your activity planning, and who did your activity impact?

The main contributors involved in the planning were the Health Promotion & Wellness Substance Use Education team, which is composed of five student leaders and a health educator. We also had a lot of support from the peer health student organization and the Substance Use Peer Prevention. The Substance Use Peer Prevention is a student organization that was created by in-house staff and the Substance Use Education team members to foster space for students who want peer health education. Other student organizations involved in supporting our efforts included Epsilon Sigma Rho at SFSU and associated students. They helped by attending as guests at our events and even helped us promote the events through social media and flyer distribution. MADD was a contributing partner and supported us with ideas for our 5K walk. Our intended audience was primarily our students and community members near our campus. Lake Merced is a public space that generates a lot of foot traffic and vehicular traffic, and that is why we chose to do our walk there.

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Which Communities Talk resources (or other SAMHSA resources) were most helpful for your activity?

  • StopAlcoholAbuse.gov website
  • Communities Talk website
  • Communities Talk planning guides
  • Communities Talk toolkits
  • Everything provided by Communities Talk was helpful!
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Did the COVID-19 pandemic affect the planning or execution of your activities?

No, the COVID-19 pandemic did not affect our planning or execution.

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What other challenge(s) did you face in planning your activity this year?

  • Needed additional resources to conduct activity
  • Lack of interest from the community
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How did you overcome these challenges?

We worked hard to promote our events. We didn’t only rely on marketing through social media and the website; we got creative and passed out flyers at any event we could attend. We also had student volunteers help us share our events with their classmates and professors. Throughout our campaign, we were able to reach over 300 students.

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What are your next steps?

  • Create new action groups to tackle specific issues raised during our Communities Talk activity
  • Create a public education campaign to raise awareness and/or change behaviors around underage drinking (i.e., create PSAs and other promotional materials)

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