Freshmen to take mandatory online alcohol ed program

Weeks before they set foot on campus, all incoming freshmen are now required to participate in an online alcohol education program.

Located at campusclarity.com, the interactive module consists of student-produced videos that present health information and demonstrate the effects of high-risk drinking through humorous skits. The program — created by the Alcohol & Other Drugs Harm-Reduction Initiative, a branch of the Yale College Dean’s Office, and a group of undergraduate volunteers — ensures freshmen receive alcohol education before arriving at Yale without adding more to the already hectic schedule of freshmen orientation week, said Garrett Fiddler ’11, a Yale College Dean’s Office fellow.

“We wanted to maximize the effects of Yale students saying, ‘This is how we do things here,’ ” Fiddler said. “The series of videos … were almost largely written and almost completely performed by current Yale students addressing the biggest aspects of drinking.”

The skits employed humor, sarcasm and irony to cover a range of topics, from Yale’s pre-game culture to responsible bystander intervention.

One scene demonstrated the negative effects of binge-drinking by showing a split-screen, comparing a skit in which a student drank excessively with another in which the same student drank more moderately. A section that dealt with pre-games criticized the logic of drinking excessively before heading out to a party by showing parody skits of students eating multiple servings of food so they would not have to eat later in the week and putting on excess makeup so they would not have to touch up later.

Andrew Hu ’16, a writer and actor in the videos, said the student writers tried to stray away from fear tactics used in many other college alcohol programs, instead opting for exaggerated humor and irony.

“The message was definitely serious, but we didn’t want to rely on fear tactics,” Hu said. “We didn’t want to say, ‘If you do something, you’re doing to die,’ because students recognize that’s not true and that gives less credibility to the rest of the program.”

Will Adams ’15, a writer and actor, said the writers understood that students at Yale may choose not to drink, while also acknowledging the likelihood of students choosing to drink despite being underage. The skits relied on phrases like, “If you drink,” rather than, “When you drink,” Adams said, adding that he hopes students realize that they do not have to drink in college.

As in previous years, freshmen will also discuss alcohol at workshops during freshmen orientation.

Elizabeth Haley ’17 said the program surprised her by being more genuine than “another boring requirement for college” and by providing baseline knowledge about alcohol without telling students what to do and what not to do.

Solon Snider ’17 said he appreciated that the program was honest and realistic about college students’ drinking habits.

“You trusted it more — the fact that it was done with a sense of humor and done by current students, and the fact that they were telling you things adults may not think highly of but they know are going to happen,” Snider said.

Freshman residences open Friday, August 23 this year.

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