Debbie Juran of Binghamton, and daughter Taylor Juran, an incoming freshman studying pre-health and biology, check in for the first session of Harpur College orientation in the Tillman Lobby of the University Union.
Photo by Jonathan Cohen
Students, parents ‘click-in’ during orientationTweet
Students entering Watters Theater the first night of orientation might wonder what the “clickers” they are handed will be used for, but it doesn’t take them long to find out. As they hear some facts about alcohol use on campus, they “click” their responses to a number of questions that are posed to them and quickly see their responses aggregated with those from everyone else in the room on the large screen at the front of the auditorium.
What do they learn? That 28 percent of fellow incoming students said they never drank alcohol in the past academic year and that 44 percent said they drank less than once a week during that same period.
Now, when the same questions are posed to the parents of these incoming students at the Safety Session the second day of orientation, do the responses match up? Not quite.
Parents believe that 47 percent of their sons and daughters never consumed alcohol during the past academic year, and that 42 percent drank less than once a week during the same period – a nearly 20 percent difference between students and parents when considering the “never” category.
Both student and parent responses to another question about their beliefs of what Binghamton University students drink during a typical week were also off the mark. A survey of Binghamton University students indicated that 18 percent never drink and 32 percent drink less than once a week. Incoming students and their parents thought that percentage was much higher.
Bridget McCane Saunders, associate director for health education, posed the questions at both sessions and addressed the perceptions people have about drinking on college campuses. “People’s perceptions are higher, and that’s not accurate,” she said. “These students are in a highly competitive environment, but this is reality vs. perception, and perception drives our students to do things they may not normally do [drink], so, a lot of our job is to work on this trend with our students.”
For example, using skits and videos, McCane Saunders warned students about “jungle juice” – a powerful, crudely prepared alcoholic punch. “Anything could be in that drink,” she said. ‘There’s no way to know how many shot-equivalents of alcohol are in a full cup of jungle juice.”
Information about what constitutes a drink and what influences intoxication followed. “Women become intoxicated faster due to the differences in body composition,” McCane Saunders said. “Weight is another factor because it takes longer for a heavier person to get intoxicated. Eat before, during and after drinking, and hydrate. Always drink water.
“Medications – over-the-counter, herbals, prescriptions – using alcohol while taking these medications can have a negative outcome on the effectiveness and to one’s body so you should stay away from alcohol,” she cautioned, “and sugar beverages and Red Bull can affect and mask the flavor of alcohol so you drink more.”
If a student is going to drink, protective behaviors are the key, McCane Saunders said. “Choose not to drink or keep count of your drinks, avoid drinking games, set a maximum drink limit, drink non-alcoholic beer or punch, travel in groups.
“Find your balance. Be smart. Be safe and have fun!”
The clicker sessions provide parents and students with information and opportunities to talk, starting with the drive home from orientation, said McCane Saunders, who is developing a follow-up program for all First-Year Experience (FYE) and HARP101 classes with the hope of presenting in each class in October. “We plan to use the clickers with the goal of obtaining additional information and data on our first-year students, and we also plan to use the information in future Parent Connect newsletters.”