Campus: CSU Bakersfield -- May 14, 2002

California State University, Bakersfield Regional Winner Of Its 2001-2002 Alcohol Awareness Program

Drinking and driving isn't a new problem on college campuses and neither are the numerous programs universities around the nation have developed to help prevent it. But it's not often that a school is recognized for doing an outstanding job to reduce the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse on campus.

The Automobile Club of Southern California and the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention recently named California State University, Bakersfield regional winner of its 2001-2002 alcohol awareness program. The CSUB program titled "Oksoberfest" was chosen as one of the best alcohol prevention campaigns in the western region, which includes colleges and universities from California, New Mexico, Texas, Hawaii, Utah and Nevada. The University of Texas, Austin claimed the grand prize.

Automobile Club senior research associate Steven Bloch said the prevention awards program was developed to recognize outstanding efforts by universities to reduce drinking and driving and substance abuse on campus.

"Cal State Bakersfield is one of only a handful of institutions over the years that has demonstrated the kinds of characteristics we look for in an award winning program," Bloch said. "Oksoberfest won over programs at other universities for its innovative, week-long themed events supporting students that want to drink safely or not drink at all."

Last October, in conjunction with the National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week, the CSUB Student Affairs office sponsored Oksoberfest. Activities included a barbecue and rally, speakers on alcohol awareness, simulated drunk driving tests and non-alcoholic smoothies. Students, faculty and staff worked together to provide information and statistics about alcohol abuse, responsible drinking options, and demonstrated non-alcoholic options for having fun.

The program was developed by the CSUB Alcohol and Drug Education Committee, which also promotes year-long alcohol prevention and drug abuse programs. Chairwoman LaShawn Barefield said the committee's ongoing goals are to reduce underage drinking, support those who choose not to drink, prevent and reduce the number of students drinking and driving, increase responsible drinking choices, increase awareness of nonalcoholic options and of alcohol and affects and support those who have alcohol abuse issues.

Barefield was pleasantly surprised by the students' interest and participation in Oksoberfest.

"It was amazing how receptive the students were to receiving this type of information," Barefield said. "One of the biggest problems with drinking on campus is the misconception that everyone is doing it. I think the students were surprised to learn that not as many students as they thought drink regularly. They also saw that there are ways to have fun without drinking."

CSUB has promoted alcohol and drug prevention for many years but the development of the recent campaign follows on the heels of a recently developed statewide CSU alcohol prevention program. After several tragic, alcohol-related incidents on other CSU campuses in 2000, CSU chancellor Charles Reed enacted an aggressive alcohol policy and prevention program.

Along with establishing program guidelines, $25,000 challenge grants were made available to all 23 CSU campuses to focus alcohol abuse prevention efforts on campus and in community environments.

CSUB President Tomas Arciniega was a member of the task force that developed the statewide program and has been a driving force behind the alcohol prevention efforts at CSUB.

"The CSU system has been proactive and in the forefront of the entire country in working to address the issue of alcohol and drug abuse on college campuses," Arciniega said. "I have taken a personal interest in this program and a strong position in seeing that we do our best to have a model effort at Cal State Bakersfield."

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