Widgets Magazine

OAPE urges students to ‘say something’

The Office of Alcohol Policy and Education (OAPE) piloted a new program called “Say Something” Monday night, in an effort to encourage students to intervene when their peers engage in dangerous and negative behaviors associated with alcohol and drugs.

Jarreau Bowen ‘07 spoke Monday at “Say Something,” an alcohol safety training program organized by the Office of Alcohol Policy and Education. The entirely male audience included several members of Greek organizations. (LUIS AGUILAR/The Stanford Daily)

 

“What we are trying to do is just challenge a culture of by-standing by getting people to just act,” said Ralph Castro, director of the OAPE. “It is a very simple concept.”

 

The office, which was founded this September in response to growing concerns about alcohol poisoning and binge drinking among students, adapted the program from materials developed by the University of Pennsylvania.

 

The presentation focused on empowering students to recognize when a friend’s behavior moves past occasional “bad nights” to a serious problem that needs to be addressed, as well as giving students strategies to intervene in harmful situations.

 

With sections titled “What to Look For,” “What to Say” and “Where to Go,” the program encouraged attendees to speak up as part of a larger intervention. It also emphasized the importance of individual responsibility toward helping strangers and best friends alike.

 

“We all have these great capes, Superman and woman capes… hanging up in our closet,” Castro said. “What we’re saying is less Superman and more Clark Kent. We want you to be there in the beginning as Clark Kent and intervene. You don’t have to turn into Superman every night. That’s what we’re going for… by giving people a presentation and saying ‘Hey, this is one step.'”

 

The presenters reminded students that of the 64 students who were taken to the hospital last year for alcohol poisoning, not a single one reported a friend saying something to them about their alcohol consumption. Every one of them, however, wished that someone had.

 

In contrast with AlcoholEdu, the online module that all freshmen must complete before coming to Stanford, Say Something has been adapted specifically for Stanford and is arranged by campus leaders.

 

Mark Duarte ’13, who attended the pilot with his fraternity Kappa Sigma, said that the program was “more personal” and “more relatable” because it was “very cognizant of issues specific to Stanford.”

 

Say Something also focuses solely on information about how peers can help each other, while AlcoholEdu educates students on how they can keep themselves from dangerous or harmful situations.

 

Made up of all males and mostly members of the Greek community, the student audience responded positively to the presentation.

 

“I definitely thought it was valuable,” said Stuart Upfill-Brown ’13.

 

“I thought it was more complete,” Duarte said. “It kind of tied all the issues [together].”

 

Jarreau Bowen ’07, assistant director of OAPE, explained that the office hopes to expand and enlarge the program in the next few months.

 

“Hopefully by winter quarter we can do a couple of really large scale Say Something’s where people come out and share their stories,” he said.

 

When asked whether it might replace AlcoholEdu in the future, Bowen said that although he wasn’t sure, he hopes the Office of Alcohol Policy and Education will continue to improve AlcoholEdu in the coming years.

 

“I would love – and our office has talked about it quite a bit – to develop something that is more Stanford-focused than AlcoholEdu is,” Bowen said. “I think we have a couple more years with AlcoholEdu,” he later added.

 

So far this year, Bowen estimated that alcohol-related hospital visits are about “on par with last year.”

 

Castro said that because OAPE has been attempting “a culture change,” effects will be only gradually visible.

 

“In two months [since OAPE was founded], although the alcohol trends are similar to last year, we are starting to see that we are being infused into the culture,” Bowen explained. “So now it’s about how do we keep that going… Hopefully this time next quarter, and this time spring quarter, and especially this time next year, we start seeing differences in actual numbers.”