Grant funds alcohol safety events

Fresno State is one of eight California State University campuses to receive a portion of a $700,000 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, aimed at reducing alcohol-related incidents among students.

The grant money will be used to promote awareness on the dangers of drinking and driving through alcohol-free events. Two activities will be planned each semester for the next three semesters.

One event being scheduled is a casino night during Vintage Days in April. It will feature live entertainment and mock-cocktails to promote a fun yet safe environment for students, said Roxene Lee, project director for the CSU alcohol and traffic safety grant.

Another event will be a spring break barbecue that will allow students to experience how they would function after a few drinks by wearing goggles that distort their vision.

“The goal is to keep students out of harm’s way and keep them from drinking and driving,” Lee said.

California reported 20,581 alcohol-related accidents in 2005, resulting in 1,387 fatalities. The goal of the grant is to reduce the alcohol-related incidents among CSU students by five percent by its completion date of Sept. 20, 2009. Another goal is to reduce the overall occurrence of alcohol-related misconduct of CSU students by five percent.

A committee of faculty and students will decide how the money will be spent to best reach the goal. They will target freshmen students by promoting awareness at Dog Days orientation, targeting students in residence halls and by working with the sororities and fraternities.

“Putting an intervention in the freshman year will reap benefits for the following years,” Lee said.

The goal of the grant will be furthered through the use of DUI checkpoints around Fresno State by law enforcement and by developing and improving online personal drinking assessments, like e-CHUG. Online alcohol self-assessments provide personalized drinking profiles, including an estimate of blood alcohol content based on the user’s weight and amount of alcohol consumed.

“The new CSU alcohol and traffic safety funds will promote initiatives to reduce DUIs and other alcohol-related problems,” said Paul Oliaro, Ph.D., vice president for student affairs.

This is the third grant in the past five years that has been awarded to the CSU campuses by the Office of Traffic Safety. All 23 CSU campuses have received a portion of more than $2 million in grant money since 2002.

The other seven campuses that received money from the most recent grant are Channel Islands, Humboldt, Los Angeles, Maritime Academy, Northridge, San Jose and San Francisco.

The grant will also be used to send committee members through training and conferences where they can share ideas with other CSU participants about alcohol abuse prevention.

University Health and Psychological Services at Fresno State will serve as the headquarters for the entire CSU grant program.

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