KU Receives NCAA Grant for Alcohol-Education Program

June 21, 2006


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The National Collegiate Athletic Association has selected the University of Kansas as one of 15 institutions to receive a CHOICES program grant this year.

The CHOICES program seeks to encourage NCAA institutions and conferences to integrate athletics into campus-wide prevention efforts through the implementation of effective alcohol-education programs. Funded programs are designed to work toward the elimination of high-risk consumption of alcohol on college campuses by promoting low-risk choices.

Mike Harrity, coordinator of student-athlete development, and Melissa Smith, manager of the Wellness Resource Center at KU’s Watkins Health Center, authored the grant proposal. Kansas Athletics partnered with several KU on-campus groups to design the proposal, including staff members from the Student Involvement and Leadership Center, Student Union Activities, Office of Multicultural Affairs, Department of Student Housing and New Student Orientation.

The Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), a leadership group with representation from every KU varsity team, will help lead Rock Chalk Responsible CHOICES. Student leaders, campus administrators and coaches will all actively participate in the development, execution and evaluation of the program.

Grants are awarded on a three-year basis. The maximum amount of the grant awards decreases from $15,000 the first year to $10,000 the second year and $5,000 the third year. The approach is designed to encourage the institution to assume greater responsibility for maintaining the program.

The “Rock Chalk Responsible” CHOICES program at KU aims to combat the irresponsible choices that can arise in a perceived thriving party scene. Creating a “team” environment by encouraging students to hold their friends accountable and challenge their reckless decisions, Rock Chalk Responsible CHOICES is designed to produce a spirit of positive peer influence.

KU student-athletes, along with coaches and staff, will help lead this charge. KU sponsors approximately 470 student-athletes in 18 varsity sports. Among these athletes,

The objectives of the Rock Chalk Responsible CHOICES program are:

  • Reducing heavy drinking among high-risk students;
  • Increasing responsible choices related to alcohol use among participating students who choose to consume alcohol by increasing awareness of the “teammate” mentality that challenges fellow students and friends to make healthy, responsible decisions;
  • Increasing opportunities for students to take a lead role in alcohol education programming;
  • Increasing opportunities for students to attend alcohol-free programming coinciding with events that are traditionally associated with heavy drinking (e.g., post-game celebrations, before matriculation);
  • Establishing a Rock Chalk Responsible CHOICES prevention team comprised of students and staff involved with alcohol abuse prevention to coordinate programs and maximize the utilization of resources.

CHOICES projects feature such elements as peer education, interdepartmental collaborations, media campaigns, community outreach and events offering alternatives to alcohol use. CHOICES projects involve and encourage students to make healthy, responsible choices about alcohol use.