At focus groups last year, Nic Sperry, the assistant director of recovery and support programs, found that students do not know Boston College’s policy toward alcohol-related issues. For fear of getting in trouble, they often do not ask resident assistants or administrators for help.
Alcohol Screening and Prevention (ASAP), which began a year and a half ago, now includes a support line students can call to learn more about BC, state, and federal policies regarding alcohol consumption. Students can also call in with concerns about their own health or the health of their friends and roommates.
“It is not an entirely new resource, it’s more of a person who is aware of the resources,” Sperry said.
In the focus groups, BC students said they would feel most comfortable talking with older BC students about ways to get help. As a result, ASAP decided to have six graduate students, who are trained on BC, state, and federal policies and are studying in counseling-related fields such as social work, run the support line.
Students can call the support line 24 hours a day, seven days a week and are not required to identify themselves.
The support line will not get students in trouble, Sperry said, but will instead serve as a resource for students to get educated on alcohol policies.
“There’s a lot of confusion surrounding the health-seeking policy. There’s a lot of confusion around these types of situations. And so our hope is that if students have questions about the health-seeking policy, they’ll utilize the support line.”
—Nic Sperry, the assistant director of recovery and support programs
“There’s no intention on our part of getting individuals in the conduct system through this,” he said. “It’s completely designed to support students who have questions about policy and resources.”
Students who call the support line can also receive an over-the-phone alcohol screening, called an AUDIT, so that he or she can better understand his or her condition.
Since the line began working Sunday, it has had two callers.
If a student is in trouble, Sperry said, he or she will need to call BCPD. But if the student wants to know what that’s going to look like, the student can call the support line, and the graduate students will explain it.
“There’s a lot of confusion surrounding the health-seeking policy,” he said. “There’s a lot of confusion around these types of situations. And so our hope is that if students have questions about the health-seeking policy, they’ll utilize the support line.”
ASAP has several other initiatives on campus. It hosts public screening events in places such as the Plex and residence halls where students can learn about blood-alcohol content and how to drink responsibly.
It also trains faculty, staff, and student leaders to have more competent conversations with students about alcohol on campus. The process is known as Screening Brief Intervention Referral to Treatment (SBIRT). Last year, ASAP trained nearly 150 people and hopes to train hundreds more this year.
“Working with our focus groups and BC students demonstrated that the majority, if not the entirety, of support for high-risk drinking only occurs after it’s been mandated through the conduct system,” Sperry said. “And we feel that’s an issue.”
Featured Image Courtesy of Thomas Palanza / Office of Residential Life