Red Watch Band and AlcoholEdu ‘really reality-based’


by Victoria Jones & Sylvia Koss

Simpson College is taking a new hands-on approach this year to alcohol education with the new AlcoholEdu course for freshman as well as the Red Watch Band.

“It’s not your high school alcohol education,” Associate Dean of Students Stephanie Krauth said.

Other Iowa universities and colleges have been using the AlcoholEdu program for years. Their positive feedback caught the attention of members of the Simpson College community and persuaded them to try it out.

AlcoholEdu is an online course aimed at freshmen who were required to complete it at the beginning of the year. While it takes a few hours to complete, students can stop and go as they please.

“I actually learned a few things from it, but I think it could have been shorter,” freshman Alisha Dittmer said. “It took several hours to complete.

Overall, it wasn’t bad and I think it’s a good idea to help educate people.”

This new course is not a normal approach to alcohol education. It accepts the fact that alcohol and drinking happens at colleges and universities.

“It’s really reality based,” Krauth said. “It’s not one of those things that just tells you ‘don’t drink.’ If you’re making this choice just realize how to be responsible and realize what you’re doing to your body.”

While the main focus is alcohol education there is also a section about sexual assault. Things like consent, responsibility and sexual violence are often linked to alcohol abuse.

“I’m really excited that we have it,” Krauth said. “I’m really excited that we also have the sexual violence piece in there because that sets the tone for the first years.”

AlcoholEdu isn’t the only part of the new approach this year. It is also Simpson’s first year with the Red Watch Band.

“AlcoholEdu is your basics and making good choices and here’s what you’re getting into,” Krauth said. “Red Watch is about friends watching out for friends and being trained that if somebody does start to hit a dangerous point in terms of their alcohol consumption what do you do.”

Red Watch is a Collaborative Leadership program where participants are certified in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), learn how to use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and take a session on alcohol education.

“A lot of students come across situations where a friend has just drank too much and they don’t know what to do and they don’t know how to help,” said Melissa Griffith, area coordinator for Buxton, Picken, Worth and the theme houses. “This will put those skills in your hands.”

At the beginning of the year Simpson Community Advisers (CA) and the security staff went through the Red Watch Program.

“I would say it was helpful in that it served as a good reminder of dangers and correct responses relating to alcohol use (or) abuse,” Kraig Thomas, senior and CA for the sophomore area, said. “It was delivered at a good pace and the presenters were effective in getting the audience involved.”

Rita Audlehelm, director of student health services, believes that the program is about empowering students.

“Nowhere in that curriculum does it say ‘I’m going to teach you how, you’re going to learn how to get your friends to quit drinking'” said Rita Audlehelm, director of student health services. “It’s about recognizing when it reaches the worst possible consequence that there is for drinking-death. It’s about recognizing that and empowering and getting people skills to step up and do what needs to be done to save lives.”

Both AlcoholEdu and the Red Watch Band are open to groups or individuals. Students involved in the program will soon be wearing their red watches as well as holding a sign-up for the Red Watch Band in February.