University Among Top Three In Drug, Alcohol Education

By Sean Smith
Staff Writer

Boston College's efforts in drug and alcohol education were recognized last month by a major North American organization promoting peer education in colleges and universities.

Bacchus and Gamma Peer Education Network, a Denver-based association of some 850 student peer education groups in the US, Canada and Mexico, selected Boston College's as one of the three top programs among member institutions with a full-time enrollment of between 4,000 and 12,000 students. In addition, Assistant Dean for Drug and Alcohol Education Kimberley Timpf was the recipient of the Bacchus and Gamma Outstanding Advisor Award for 1998.

BC's co-winners were University of Northern Colorado and Bradley University. The awards were presented at the Bacchus and Gamma General Assembly in Washington, DC, in November.

"I was surprised and honored to receive my award - which the students nominated me for - but I was especially pleased for the students," said Timpf. "These are intense topics to deal with, and the PEN members work very hard to get their fellow undergraduates to examine their attitudes and behaviors. Unlike at some other institutions, our students receive no compensation or academic credit for their efforts. They are in it purely for the service."

"This was a great honor," said Ryan Travia '01, a PEN leader. "It certainly felt great to be recognized for the work we do, which is very difficult. But just being at the assembly was an important experience, and seeing how so many other people are equally passionate about this work."

BC's 25-member Peer Education Network comprises three groups which seek to help students learn more about the issues of drug and alcohol use, sexual assault and HIV/AIDS prevention. PEN sponsors campus programs and events intended to help students make responsible decisions in their personal lives, and understand the potential impact of their choices on the community around them.

Among the programs PEN provides are "Drawing the Shades," a theatrical and multimedia production based on stories of college students who have experienced sexual assault - which they presented at the Bacchus and Gamma assembly - and a workshop on alcoholic poisoning where students use an interactive CD-ROM to attend a "virtual party" that allows them to see the consequences of their choices. Members also present education programs to local area elementary and junior high school students through the Boston College Neighborhood Center.

This semester, PEN spearheaded a campaign in which some 2,000 BC community members agreed to abstain from alcohol for a week, and last week sponsored a candlelight vigil commemorating World AIDS Day.

"Boston College should be proud that we have this group of dedicated students who have helped place us on the cutting-edge of peer education program development," said Dean for Student Development Robert Sherwood. "With all the attention college students' negative behavior receives, it's easy to overlook that there are many others who behave responsibly and - in the case of groups like PEN - encourage others to do the same."

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