By Lou Ryan
State Senator Judy Schwank announced the university as one of 61 winners of the Alcohol Education Grant from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board at a press conference Sept. 3. Kutztown University health ambassadors Kayla Mellinger, Madeline Dworak and Kristen Nisbet were there to accept the $39,986 award.
Kutztown University is using money from the grant to educate the campus community about the risks of underage and binge drinking.
One service coming back thanks to the grant money is AlcoholEdu, an online alcohol prevention program that used to be mandatory for all incoming freshmen. Funding for the program ran out two years ago and the university had to stop offering it.
According to Health Promotion Services director Frances Cortez Funk, AlcoholEdu helps college students learn how to be safe both on and off campus.
“It increases awareness not only about alcohol use and abuse but also sexual safety,” she said.
Funk hopes to reintroduce AlcoholEdu to current students later this year, and continue offering it to incoming freshmen in the future.
The grant money will also help interested students offer peer-to-peer education by bringing in professionals from the Bacchus Network in Littleton, Colo.
“They’ll be coming to train 18 peer educators on how to talk to peers about safe drinking,” said Mellinger, president of KU Health Ambassadors.
Students who complete the program will become certified peer educators in college health, a certification recognized across the country. Training will occur Oct. 11 and 12.
Students will also be conducting surveys across campus as part of a strategic program to increase awareness. The surveys will help find specific issues that need to be addressed. According to Mellinger, KUHA will set up information boards outlining the dangers of alcohol and its side effects and is planning an event called Sober Safe Fun to take place at the end of October.
The university is still waiting to find out details about when and how it can start spending the grant money, but Funk is optimistic about the effect it will have on students.
“If I could summarize this grant, I’d say it’s about giving back to the community,” she said. “Students have privileges, but they also have responsibilities.”
Kutztown University is one of 20 colleges and universities across the state to receive grant money from the Alcohol Education Grant Program this year. The Kutztown Borough also received a grant from the PLCB worth $36,615, which will be used to increase alcohol education and law enforcement off campus.