This August, the class of 2014 became the first class at Wesleyan to use AlcoholEdu, an online assessment and learning tool for drugs and alcohol. Although other schools have long required new students to complete an online alcohol awareness test, the University had preferred to keep alcohol awareness programs on campus.

Despite the earlier approach, this year all new students were sent an e-mail in early August asking them to complete Part One of the program by Aug. 30, prior to their arrival on campus.

Director of University Health Center Joyce Walter reported that 98 percent of freshmen had logged into AlcoholEdu, and 91 percent had completed Part One, indicating a high rate of participation for the new program. Part Two of the program will be provided to new students about 45 days after arriving on campus.

“[AlcoholEdu] creates a learning experience that resets unrealistic expectations about the effects of alcohol, links choices about drinking to academic and personal success, helps students practice healthier and safer decision making around alcohol consumption, and motivates behavior change,” Walter wrote in an e-mail to The Argus. “It is the only program with demonstrated efficacy when administered at a population level.”

Prior to this year, the University has had a different online alcohol assessment program for five years, available on the Health Center and WesWELL websites. Although this program was available to all students, its use was only required of students with judicial sanctions. According to Walter, AlcoholEdu is significantly more comprehensive than the old program, might better prepare students for campus life and hopefully will help reduce the amount of medical emergencies that occur during orientation and throughout the year.

“After consulting with the Student Life Committee last year, we switched to AlcoholEdu because on other campuses this program has been demonstrated to be effective in helping students reduce risky alcohol and drug use,” Assistant Vice President and Dean of Students Rick Culliton wrote in an e-mail to The Argus. “We have rolled it out to all new students in an effort to make sure that all new students have the information to make safe decisions about alcohol and drugs as they come to campus.”

The University plans to use AlcoholEdu for all new students over at least the next four years, with everyone on campus having participated by 2017.

“Our expectation continues to be one of safety, making sure students have the tools to make healthy choices and to become aware of incidences when medical intervention is necessary,” Walter said.

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