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GA 2014 Wrap-Up


Area 3 students visiting Downtown Disney (courtesy: Area 3)

This year, General Assembly was the perfect time (November 13 – 16) and the perfect place (Orlando) for many to escape frigid temperatures. Better yet, the conference schedule was packed with inspirational stories, valuable wisdom, and practical tips for peer education groups.

The conference began Thursday morning with two pre-conference workshops. This year, we were lucky to have Dr. Jason Kilmer discuss current marijuana research, as well as the ever-popular Advisors Academy program. Beginning Thursday afternoon, attendees had lots of opportunities to learn about new programs that their peer programs are doing. We had 84 breakout sessions spread over nine breakout time slots. GA 2014 officially opened Thursday evening with an energetic hour from David Coleman.

Friday got underway with a griping keynote presentation by Andrea Mosby, who shared her personal journey from scared teenager, to professional and very proud mother. Later in the day, participants had the opportunity to attend more educational sessions, as well as the first of two featured speaker showcases. Attendees could choose among Matt Glowacki, Kelly Addington & Becca Tieder, or the BACCHUS Sexperts.

Saturday was packed with even more educational sessions. The day began with a keynote from (now mustachioed) Ross Szabo, who discussed the importance of maintaining good mental health. After lunch, participants were treated to a second featured speaker showcase. This session featured Gabe Wright, Shaun Sperling, and The Female Orgasm. The conference closed out with our annual awards banquet, where the best of the best were honored for their work. As always, our conference photographer Devin Kealey reflected back the conference in an amazing collection of photos, video, and song. Participants then danced, sipped mocktails, and got goofy in the photo booth.

Several new student leaders were elected at General Assembly:

  • Sarah Devitt, SAC Director
  • Damian Glover, SAC Director
  • Mashaya Parks, SAC Communication Coordinator

New Student Advisory Committee (SAC) members from each area will be elected at spring area conferences.

IMG_50202014 Awards

Each year at the BACCHUS Initiatives of NASPA General Assembly, awards are presented to recognize outstanding peer education programs and individuals. The following programs and individuals received awards on November 15, 2014

Outstanding Advisor

  • Kendra Reichel, Well PAC, Fort Lewis University
  • JT Knoll, Gorillas in your Midst, Pittsburg State University
  • Jayme Trogus, Millersville Peer Educators, Millersville University
  • Terrance Harris, Wellness Interns, Stetson University
  • Wendy Krisak, PACE, DeSales University

Outstanding Student

  • Matthew Walla, Peer Health Educators, Saginaw Valley State University
  • Hailey Mackie, Health and Wellness Peer Educators, Indiana University Purdue University- Indianapolis
  • Aundrea Bevis, Project Health, University of Alabama
  • Joshua Kaufmann, SPARKS Peer Education, Elon University
  • Casey Stover, Millersville Peer Educators, Millersville University

Outstanding Program

  • Rock Out the RedZone, UWF Peer Educators, University of West Florida
  • JagFit!, Health and Wellness Peer Educators, Indiana University Purdue University- Indianapolis
  • This is HAWE Do IT, Health and Wellness Educators, Roger Williams University
  • Student vs Food, UNCW Health Promotion Peer Educators University of North Carolina Wilmington
  • Tobacco Free UM, Fresh Air Crew, University of Montana Missoula
  • Rubberwear, The UConn Sexperts (University of Connecticut)

Outstanding Peer Group

  • UNCW Health Promotion Peer Educators, University of North Carolina Wilmington
  • PACE, DeSales University
  • Peer Educators, Valencia College
  • Peer Health Educators, Radford University
  • SPARKS Peer Education, Elon University
  • The UConn Sexperts, University of Connecticut

Columbus State University claimed the titles of Best School Exhibit and Best BAC-Tail.

A big thank you goes out to this year’s sponsors and exhibitors:

Be sure to mark November 12 – 15, 2015 on your calendar for next year’s General Assembly in Reston, Virginia. We will be celebrating 40 years of BACCHUS and peer education!


Celebrating the Great American Smokeout on Campus

smokeout-toolkit-1The idea is simple, though the change can be hard. For those who smoke, commit to not smoking for 24 hours. Then try 48 hours, then 72. Break the change down into smaller pieces.

The Great American Smokeout is an annual event promoting smoking cessation around the country. In health circles, it’s a sort of “high holiday” for behavior change.

A Little History

Like many good ideas, the beginnings of the Great American Smokeout were modest. In 1970, Arthur P. Mullaney asked people in Randolph, Massachusetts to give up cigarettes for a day and donate the money they would have spent on tobacco to a high school scholarship fund. The concept started to catch on, and in 1976, the California Division of the American Cancer Society convinced nearly one million smokers to quit for the day. Since then, it has become an annual event observed on the third Thursday in November.

The CDC originally funded The BACCHUS Network in the late 1990’s to work on tobacco prevention with college campuses. This led to the development of an annual “Collegiate Smokeout” programming manual for member campuses. NASPA Institutional Members can access the 2014 version for free. (For the free download code, please email Tad Spencer.)

Today, as part of NASPA, The BACCHUS Initiatives continue to provide campuses with resources, materials, training and technical assistance to reduce tobacco use.

How Far We Have Come

Even just ten years ago, the thought of having a completely tobacco-free campus seemed a little far-fetched. Now, though, there are 1,477 campuses with 100% smoke-free policies, 975 of which are 100% tobacco free. Policy change accelerates norm change.

Why are campuses adopting tobacco-free policies so rapidly?

  • First impressions are vital. Who wants to lead prospective students and their parents through smoky entryways and cigarette butt litter?
  • Students who do not smoke when entering college are less likely to start during their time on campus.
  • Health insurers notice when fewer employees smoke.
  • Facilities management can spend more time beautifying the campus and less time cleaning up toxic tobacco waste.
  • Parents love it.
  • Those with asthma can move more freely across campus, without worrying about side effects from secondhand smoke.
  • Tobacco users trying to quit have an easier time in environments where use is not allowed.
  • Everyone has more opportunities to enjoy the fresh air on campus.

The rise of smoke-free places throughout the first decade of the new millennium arguably has done more to save lives and drive down tobacco use in such a short period of time than any other single method in the past. As an advocate friend of mine likes to say, “If a scientist had created a pill that reduced heart attacks as much as smoke-free laws have, that person would, without a doubt, win The Nobel Prize.”

Many of our students grew up going to smoke-free restaurants and other public places. Compare that to the days when smoking was allowed virtually everywhere—classrooms, grocery stores, and airplanes. It is hard to imagine going back. That’s how we know the norm has changed for the better.

The BACCHUS Toolkit and Services

The 2014 Collegiate Smokeout toolkit is available for free to NASPA Institutional Members. (For the free download code, please email Tad Spencer.) The manual provides information on common tobacco products, ideas for promoting cessation on campus, and tips for building and ensuring compliance with a tobacco-free campus policy.

The BACCHUS Store has pamphlets, giveaway items and other resources to enhance your tobacco-related programming.

We also offer trainings and technical assistance to help campuses at all phases of the tobacco policy process. Please contact the BACCHUS Initiatives office at 303-871-0901 to learn more.

The Great American Smokeout is just one day out of the year. By reclaiming our campuses as tobacco-free environments and connecting people with cessation resources, our impact can last for generations.



Recruiting Diverse Peer Educators

By: Lauren Irwin and Reid Roemmich, Michigan State University

IMG_3130The National Peer Educator Study (NPES) shows what peer educators across the United States are gaining from peer education involvement.  Despite peer educators generally demonstrating considerable growth as a result of their role, the population of peer educators is fairly homogeneous. By prioritizing the recruitment of diverse peer educators, peer education programs can better serve different student populations while simultaneously enhancing peer educators’ competencies working with a variety of students (Jones & Abes, 2013).  The 2014 NPES report indicates the following demographics of peer educators who completed the national survey:

  • Race:
    • 64% White
    • 12% Hispanic/Latino
    • 10% African-American/Black
    • 9% Asian/Asian-American/Pacific Islander
    • 5% Biracial/Multiracial
  • Gender:
    • 85% Women
    • 15% Male
  • Academic Class Standing:
    • 5% First-year students
    • 22% Sophomores
    • 30% Juniors
    • 42% Seniors

Clearly, the majority of peer educators in college are white females of junior and senior standing.  Therefore, it’s important for schools to look at redesigning their recruitment efforts to include more males and students of color in peer education programs.  Heys and Wawrzynski (2013) showed that regardless of academic class standing or race, male peer educators showed significantly positive gains in all of the measured learning domains.  Additionally, male peer educators can bring a different perspective to their peer education positions. As an institution, bringing in a larger variety of perspectives by recruiting nontraditional peer educators can clearly benefit both students and peer education programs.  We have provided some suggestions that may be helpful for you to think about when recruiting new peer educators and designing peer education programs on your campus.

  • Identify gaps. Look at your existing peer educators – what perspectives (gender, race, major, etc.) are underrepresented? What skill sets do you still need? By examining your current and previous groups of peer educators, you can focus more on recruiting students who will best serve in the role.
  • Reach out to specific academic departments. Depending on the function of the peer educator role, it could be beneficial to connect with certain academic departments. If your peer educators provide specialized information about sustainability, reach out to environmental science and public policy majors. Current education students may be especially interested in roles as tutors or instructors. It is also important to consider the skills that students will gain in the role. Recruit from marketing and graphic design students if you expect students to create their own publicity materials. Peer educator roles can be meaningful learning experiences for students and can foster the development of transferable skills to help in the future job search (Heys & Wawrzynski, 2013).
  • Utilize your returning peer educators. First, ask your current peer educators how they learned about the role.  They may give you important insight into what recruitment methods are most effective. Additionally, peer educators are talented at interacting and sharing information with their peers – use those skills to support recruitment. Encourage peer educators to share recruitment information via social media, with friends, and in other involvements on campus. Peer educators can share their personal experiences with others to market the opportunity accurately and effectively.
  • Connect with other advisors. Share best practices and recruitment strategies with other advisors. By sharing strategies, advisors can support intentional student involvement in peer education roles across campus. The University of South Carolina’s Office of Student Engagement created a Peer Leader Advisor Network as a way to centrally disseminate and share information about peer leaders on campus.
  • Intentionally recruit for diversity. In addition to the usual flyers and mass emails, consider targeted marketing strategies through existing campus resources. Ask career counselors and academic advisors to post and share recruitment information with the students they see. If the peer educator positions are paid, the financial aid office and other student employment and financial resources are excellent places to market. Publicize in residence halls and relevant living-learning communities. In-person outreach in the form of presentations to first year seminars and other classes, tabling at resource fairs, and information sessions can improve recruitment efforts. Additionally, partnering with cultural centers or offices that serve specific student populations can enhance intentional recruitment efforts.

As you can see, there are a number of strategies to get the best and brightest peer educators on campus. Although females have traditionally done a very good job in their role as peer educators, offering a broader perspective by recruiting more males and students of color should be considered in future practices.  Understanding the needs of your campus and aligning the skillsets of peer educators to meet those needs will help diversify the position.  Most importantly, taking an active role in peer education recruiting and marketing strategies will ensure that both the students and peer educators are getting the best experience possible.


Take a look at how the University of Alabama’s Less Than U Think team has been addressing high-risk drinking during football season. (Via the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility)



Transferable Skills for Peer Educators

By: Joseph Bozzo and Lauren Irwin, Michigan State University

IMG_3087Students who hold peer educator roles develop an array of skills and competencies while serving as leaders and
educators among their peers. Exploring competency development in peer educators can illuminate the development of these transferable skills. Each year, the National Peer Educator Study (NPES) research team surveys peer educators from more than 40 institutions to learn about their motivations, behaviors, and learning outcomes.

The NPES survey results reflect the development of peer educators in six domains, developed from Learning Reconsidered 2 and the CAS Learning and Developmental Outcomes: cognitive complexity; intrapersonal development; interpersonal development; practical competence; knowledge acquisition, construction, integration, and application; and humanitarianism and civic engagement. Advisors can utilize information about what peer educators are learning to support the development of transferable skills and help peer educators think about ways they can apply these new skills to other contexts. Analyzing peer educator learning outcomes is an important avenue for exploring student learning and competency development.

Across all six learning domains measured by the NPES, students reported significant development as a result of serving as peer educators. In terms of cognitive development, peer educators reported better problem solving and critical analyzing skills. Peer educators developed intrapersonal skills, reporting a better sense of their own values, strengths, and weaknesses. They also reported increased interpersonal competence, as they felt more comfortable working and communicating with others and facilitating group discussions. The development of better listening, public speaking, and time management skills demonstrated increased practical competence. The ability to refer students to additional resources, research information, and reevaluate previous assumptions demonstrated growth in knowledge acquisition, construction, integration, and application skills. Finally, in terms of humanitarianism and civic engagement, peer educators reported feeling a sense of responsibility to the campus community, considering the welfare of others in their decision making, and understanding the role of their own values in group behaviors.

While peer educator competency development is important within the context of student learning and peer education programs, the knowledge and competencies highlighted in each domain have applications beyond peer education. Since peer educators self-report growth in these areas, advisors are in the perfect place to create a transformative, transferable experience. In supporting the competency development of peer educators, advisors may find that helping students reflect on the combination of their curricular and co-curricular endeavors is a useful tool (Wawrzynski, LoConte, & Straker, 2011). The reflection process encourages students to recall the interactions that they have had with health behaviors in their own life and the lives of others. Reflection opportunities can include small group discussions, journals, case studies, and presentations, can exist outside of formal training, and can be structured to take little time on the part of the student.

Creating structured opportunities where learning outcomes are central to the student experience allows for the greatest degree of achievement. Adopting a competency-based peer education program means that students will know what outcomes to expect and professionals will know what outcomes to assess. Furthermore, the program may become attractive to students as a means of developing in areas of personal weakness or integrating curricular and co-curricular experiences. This concept has natural implications in recruiting peer educators and advertising what your program has to offer.

Although these learning experiences foster the development of transferable skills that can facilitate the accomplishment of future life goals, they also encourage outcomes beyond the individual student. By focusing on the outcomes of a peer education program, advisors can see positive changes in the motivation levels of applicants and the quality of work that peer educators do, which in turn can affect the campus community as a whole.


ACPA, ACUHO-I, ACUI, NACA, NACADA, NASPA & NIRSA (2006). Learning reconsidered 2: Implementing a campus-wide focus on the student experience. 1-88. Retrieved from http://www.nirsa.org/docs/Discover/Publications/LearningReconsidered2.pdf

Council for the Advancement of Standards (2009). CAS learning and development outcomes. In Council for the Advancement of Higher Education (Ed.), CAS professional standards for higher education (7th Ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Wawrzynski, M. R., LoConte, C. L., & Straker, E. J. (2011). Learning outcomes for peer educators: The national survey on peer education. Emerging issues and practices in peer education: New directions for student services No. 133 (pp. 17–27). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.



By: Lauren Koppel and Jordan Weiner, Michigan State University

Hello to all peer educators and advisors!  We are Master’s students in the Student Affairs Administration program at Michigan State University where we also serve on the National Peer Educator Study (NPES) research team.  As former student leaders and rising student affairs professionals, we are passionate about peer education and hope that blog posts from our research team will be helpful in contributing to the development and success of peer educator programs.

The NPES, conducted through the BACCHUS Network, NASPA, and Michigan State Uengageniversity, engages undergraduate peer educators at participating institutions in a survey designed to assess the motivation, behavior, and growth of students who hold the peer educator position.  The NPES research team sends personalized result packets to peer educator advisors each spring, detailing their peer educator team’s self-reported results, benchmarking these results to those at similar institutions, and offering recommendations for increased peer educator development.  Our work is highly influenced by the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS).

In 2008, CAS developed learning outcomes for students in higher education, integrating its previous learning outcomes with those proposed by Learning Reconsidered 2.  These learning outcomes fit into six broad learning categories, known as domains.  The domains include: knowledge acquisition, construction, integration and application; cognitive complexity; intrapersonal development; interpersonal competence; humanitarianism and civic engagement; and practical competence (CAS, 2014).

The NPES measures participating peer educators’ growth within the Learning Domains. Based on the survey results, the NPES research team has developed tips and suggestions to facilitate growth in each learning domain.  Below are selected suggestions for advisors to incorporate into trainings, meetings, and advising practices.  For a more comprehensive list, we suggest advisors register for the survey through their NASPA and BACCHUS affiliations. The NPES team provides each participating institution with a customized report on students’ learning domain scores and associated tips for training.

Knowledge acquisition, construction, integration, and application

  1. Have students coordinate and facilitate segments of training for each other in a topic of their interest or expertise.
  2. Create learning contracts for students to connect the relevant knowledge/skills gained to future goals/aspirations. For further information on learning contracts refer to Learning is Not a Sprint.
  3. Encourage collaborations between different peer education topics or with other campus partners to illustrate interconnectedness of ideas and experiences.

Cognitive Complexity

  1. Incorporate reflection activities into individual or group meetings.
  2. Encourage evidence based decision-making by introducing students to multiple means of information gathering and assessment.
  3. Encourage innovative problem solving by facilitating problem solving or case study situations.

Intrapersonal Development

  1. Provide goal setting opportunities and check-ins at multiple points throughout the year.
  2. Facilitate values exercises to help articulate values throughout one’s life, rank values personally and professionally, and compare values with others.
  3. Encourage ethical thinking by facilitating case studies that place students into morally challenging situations.

Interpersonal Competence

  1. Invite a Career Services representative or other authorized individual to facilitate the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or another personality assessment with the peer educator team.
  2. Frequently empower peer educators to lead activities and conversations.
  3. Provide both formal and informal opportunities to give feedback.

Humanitarianism and Civic Engagement

  1. Teach peer educators how to track social dynamics in group conversations and interactions and to name their observations and express if they feel triggered.
  2. Encourage peer educators to research current events related to peer education nationally and globally and incorporate these perspectives into peer educator meetings and programs.
  3. Coordinate collaborations with middle school or high school peer educator groups, i.e. workshops, volunteering, presentations, program planning.

Practical Competence

  1. Begin peer educator training by asking peer educators to reflect on and articulate their goals for the peer educator experience and how these relate to their personal and professional goals.
  2. Utilize campus resources to engage peer educators in finance and budgeting workshops or similar programs.
  3. Invite professionals from different departments on campus to speak to peer educators about their experiences.



CAS Domains:



Learning Reconsidered 2:


Learning is Not a Sprint:



ncaaw-2014-coverBy: Dr. Ann Quinn-Zobeck, Senior Director for BACCHUS Initiatives and Training

National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week (NCAAW) has been celebrated on campuses across the U.S. for more than 25 years. Traditionally held in the third full week of October, this week is a great time to reflect on how we are addressing collegiate alcohol use. The BACCHUS Initiatives of NASPA has created an online toolkit, #makeSMARTchoices, to assist collegiate peer education groups to develop effective, comprehensive alcohol abuse and impaired driving prevention programming. Here are some things you should know about NCAAW.

  1. Its Historic

As institutions of higher education entered the decade of the 1980s, it became increasingly apparent that existing efforts to reduce alcohol and drug abuse on the campuses were not achieving the desired results. Campus leaders continued to identify the misuse of alcohol as a primary institutional concern for the future success of the students they served. In recognition of this growing concern, a group of individuals gathered together to discuss the ways higher education might more effectively address the problems associated with alcohol abuse and to create a more unified and effective approach to building awareness and campus-wide support for prevention programming.

The original leaders in this effort included: Dennis Roberts representing the American College Personnel Association (ACPA); Tom Aceto of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA); Paul Olivaro from the Association of College and University Housing Officers-International (ACUHO-I); and Gerardo Gonzales, the Executive Director of BACCHUS. Two of the BACCHUS board members were also instrumental in this early effort. They were Dr. Thomas Goodale, Vice President for Student Affairs at the University of Denver, and Gary North, Director of Residence Life at the University of Illinois.

  1. One Week is Not Enough

The first few months of the academic year are critical times to convey your campus’ unique messages about alcohol abuse to all new and returning students, in efforts to avoid tragedies, and to keep healthy and safe lifestyles as the norm. NCAAW is the foundation to building a year-round program, keeping alcohol abuse prevention at the forefront, and assisting students in finding support for alcohol-related issues. Alcohol abuse prevention is not a one-week activity; promoting responsible alcohol consumption is a year-round effort.

  1. Students Want to Be Involved

BACCHUS began with the recognition that peer education can be a useful and effective tool in addressing safety and health issues on college campuses. Today, numerous studies have documented the need for peer education on college campuses and the positive outcomes of peer education. Peer education has a beneficial effect on our campuses, communities, peers, and peer educators. Involving students in your alcohol abuse prevention efforts enables you to reach more students and provide students with a rich leadership experience.

  1. There Are Effective Strategies to Address Collegiate Alcohol Abuse

From using Motivational Interviewing (MI) strategies to environmental management to social norms marketing, there are many strategies campuses should be undertaking to proactively and comprehensively address alcohol abuse within their student population and campus community. The strategies outlined in the #makeSMARTchoices Toolkit will help peer education groups address the different populations on campus to reinforce lower-risk options (from abstaining to lower-risk drinking), to build upon prevention with intervention strategies such as screening and brief intervention, and to support a healthy campus community with policy and enforcement work. The more comprehensive a campus’ approach to prevention, the greater likelihood the campus will see decreases in alcohol abuse and related behaviors.

  1. It’s a Great Way to Celebrate Your Success and Renew Your Commitment to Promoting Health

Use NCAAW to build and promote your alcohol abuse and impaired driving prevention program, as well as gain campus and community support. Recognize the students, faculty, staff, and community members who have contributed to your efforts. Invite campus media to write about your programs. Invite key stakeholders to discuss your campus data to identify successes and areas needing additional attention. Remind students of the services, programs, and healthy alternatives available.

The #makeSMARTchoices 2014 NCAAW Toolkit is available for download at http://www.bacchusnetworkstore.org/ncaaw-toolkit-pdf-263. You will find additional educational materials, trainings, and #makeSMARTchoices promotional items at the BACCHUS Network Store. Here is to a great NCAAW!



Featured Program: UNLV Recovery Support Group

unlv-logoBy: Starr Wharton, Advisor; Michael Fildes, Omid Mahban, Nick Ohlson, and Oliver Wright

Tell us briefly about your peer education program.

  • UNLV’s recovery efforts include weekly support group meetings (based on 12-step format) for student experiencing recovery, drop-in hours in our Wellness Promotion offices and outreach presentations where students in recovery share their story and experiences. We have presented to Fraternity & Sorority Life, academic classes and conducted programs including, “How To Help A Friend With Addiction”. They are expanding the program to include a support group for friends/family members of addicts and invite speakers from AA and NA to the support group meetings.

How did this project come about?

  • In 2012, a student organization was started by students working with a local recovery foundation. UNLV Student Wellness was approached to partner with the student organization for meeting space for support and referrals to campus health and mental health services.

How have you incorporated peer educators into the recovery program?

  • The peer educators first became involved with the recovery program when the President asked about alcohol and other drug awareness programming. As they began to learn more about the group and found they fit perfectly on campus as a Peer Education/Advocacy Group. The original advisor took another position and the Assistant Director for Wellness Promotion was asked to step into that role. The President of the organization was interested in CPE Training and felt the group leaders would benefit from it. They have chosen to call themselves peer mentors rather than educators and it fits well!

How does it work? What is the structure/staffing?

  • Our recovery group is a registered student organization on campus. Membership is voluntary and open to any student on campus experiencing recovery. They have an elected executive board, staff advisor, but no funding at this time or dedicated safe space for meetings and socializing on campus. The group would like to apply for a Stacie Mathewson Foundation Grant and find other funding sources in the next year to help establish a dedicated space and paid peer mentor positions. They have a dedicated campus email address, webpage and social media networks.

What are some lessons you have learned from doing this work?

  • From Starr Wharton, Advisor:
    • Addiction touches more lives than we may realize. From my experience, students are likely to know someone who is, or has had, an addiction to alcohol or other drugs (including prescription drugs). They may not know this person is in recovery or even has had the addiction. For those that have dealt with addiction in their personal lives, we want them to know they are not alone and do have support on campus.
  • They are dedicated peer advocates who have overcome adversity and want to help their fellow students to do the same. They are inspirational, resilient and have a unique perspective on life that I have learned from and feel others could too.
  • Find a dedicated space! While we cannot compare ourselves to other campuses, we know from research and anecdotal evidence a dedicated space, regular meetings and staff support academic performance and personal well-being. Dedicated space is one of the top 3 critical components of successful collegiate recovery programs (Capacity Building for Youth Recovery, Publication 2. Edition 1. 2013. Stacie Mathewson Foundation). A place for students in alcohol and other drug recovery to visit while on campus helps provide a substance-free, safe, comfortable, private space for resources, studying and meetings. This space may be used for impromptu meetings/programs and provide a location where they can support each other through the tough times.
  • The idea of peer mentors/educators in addiction recovery (especially substances) is concerning to some mental health communities/providers. Consider your local environment and be prepared to discuss evidence-based practices.

Have you done other evaluation of the program?

  • We ask students to evaluate their experience with the group and program evaluations at each presentation/program/event.

What are some suggestions/tips you would give campuses that might like to do something similar?

  • Develop relationships with related campus departments/services and community organizations.
  • If you choose to partner closely with a community organization, ensure there is a MOU (memorandum of understanding) in place.
  • Find a dedicated space, funding and staff support first (including your counseling/mental health department)
  • A student-led support group may gain more support than a professional staff-led formal program. Carefully consider your campus climate and environment.
  • Use the Transforming Youth Recovery website. It has outstanding resources!

Featured Program: Clemson University Water Drop

By: Josh Arrage, Area 9 SAC, Clemson University

High-risk drinking is a serious problem on many college campuses. Some students consume large amounts of alcohol in relatively short amounts of time. It is hard to completely stop this dangerous habit, but there are ways to teach students how to more safely consume alcohol. At Clemson University, this is where CU Water Drop comes in to play.

CU Water Drop is an organization, started as a creative inquiry, which will drop off cases of water at events where high-risk drinking may be problem. These events range from large fraternity parties, to university-sponsored events, to small personal parties. This helps promote drinking water in between drinks to make drinking a little safer. Water has been shown to decrease the effects of alcohol on the system and even help with the next day hangover feeling.

Free cases of water are given out to these events. Clemson’s Board of Trustees, Parents’ Fund, and being a Creative Inquiry supports funding for this organization, while the Vice President of Student Affairs leads the group. This has allowed them to market themselves on campus through handing out cups and magnets that accompany each drop and across campus. It takes a team effort to make sure the water is ordered on time, delivered, picked up, stored, and distributed, but this group has been able to have a good degree of success. In just two years of existence, the number of drops has gone from ten a semester to almost 500. In follow-up surveys, 83.7% of students said they used the water for hydration purposes, and 57% said there were fewer overly drunk people.

The group still faces some roadblocks ahead. Like many programs on campus, they will need to find ways to be sustainable in terms of people and resources. The group will also have to continue to market the service and, eventually, alter social norms related to the problem of high-risk drinking.

For more information on the CU Water Drop, please click here.


Helpful Hints for Selecting New Peer Educators

A Q&A with Triniti Halverson, advisor at Montana State University – Billings and Area 3 Consultant

How do you advertise peer educator openings or recruitment periods?

  • Peer educator openings are posted on our website with an online application.
  • Postcards are given out at events.
  • We have a recruitment fair at which we set up seven different tables that have individual displays representing different topics that we cover. Students go to each table and talk with a current peer educator about that topic and how we educate on it. They then get a stamp on their ‘passport’. They bring the passport to the final table and give it to our president and vice president and they talk to them about getting involved and give them a swag item for attending.
  • We also do a lot of recruitment at orientation.
  • We send out an email with all of the volunteer positions (including peer educators) available in Student Health Services to all of the students living in the residence halls.
  • Our group gives presentations to specific classes and degrees that are easily linked to peer education (health promotion, education, human services, etc).
  • We also send out emails to campus professionals that work with students (diversity center, 1st year seminar staff, etc) and ask them invite specific student leaders to join. I then reach out to those individuals.

Is there a particular time of year you conduct recruiting?

  • We recruit in the Spring and over summer at Orientation.

What is the process for applicants—interviews, agreements, training expectations?

  • First, they complete an online application.
  • We conduct an interview and have the person give a five minute presentation on a health topic
  • Once accepted, there is a week-long training followed by a weekend retreat
  • We ensure they know the expectations, go through confidentiality training, and sign contracts.

Are there particular qualities you look for in peer educators? What are they?

  • I look for:
    • Genuine desire to help others
    • Willingness to learn or improve on areas that they have identified as areas of opportunity (i.e. if they “aren’t good at public speaking” are they willing to learn and practice?)
    • Ability and desire to be a healthy role model
    • Non-judgmental attitude towards a diverse populations as well as struggles that may be different for students
    • Goal-driven

What are some lessons you have learned about selecting new peer educators?

  • By nature, we start to recruit the students that we already see involved on campus because they are genuinely good student leaders. This starts to become a problem because these students are involved in everything and they typically don’t have much to give to the group and/or it starts to hinder their ability to do well in classes.

    I think you need a combination of very involved students and brand new students. It’s also nice to have a combination of freshman through seniors so that they don’t all graduate at once.