Wasted Time: Program Patronizes Students About Alcohol

Between looking at porn and doing my homework (sometimes at the same time) I received an email telling me I needed to complete the Alcohol EDU online course.
As you can imagine, I was very excited.

The course starts off with a long video (you can’t skip it, I tried) with a few college kids talking about random things, trying to get us interested.

It usually starts with a guy and a girl sitting on a couch talking, with a ping-pong table and vending machines in the back.

‘Hey, Marissa, wasn’t that test lame in biology yesterday?’

(Oh my God! I can relate! They so get me!)

‘Yea Jake, it was totally stupid! Mr. Daniels is such a loser!’

(They’re being mean, this is funny!)

The guy and the girl chat as a second guy walks into the room, ‘Hey, are you guys talking about Mr. Daniels’ test and how stupid it was?’

(Okay, is anything related to alcohol going to happen anytime soon?)

‘Yea Tony, we’re totally talking about that stupid test! Which reminds me, would you guys want to go consume alcohol with me?’

(Uh oh.)

After a long lecture from each person about the dangers of alcohol and how drinking will murder your family, it’s time to take some surveys and tests!

The surveys are usually great; half of them involve figuring out things you can do besides drinking.

‘Let’s say you’re at your dorm and your roommate asks you if you want to drink a beer. Name four things you can tell him you’d rather do than drink.’

Answer: about any other drug. None of those involve drinking’mdash;besides a lot of water for the ecstasy. Did I win yet? Is the course over?

Not yet.

After the survey, it’s time to do a video activity (sounds fun!) where a scenario plays and you’re supposed to make things right. The scene usually starts off with a guy and a girl drinking on a couch with a ping-pong table and vending machines in the back (familiar?).

‘Wow Marissa, you’re really putting down those beers. Do you feel okay?’

‘Of course I’m okay, Jake! Now here’s the question for you. Can I give you a B.J.?’

Then the video freezes and a question appears on the screen:

‘Marissa is clearly under the influence of alcohol and has offered you a B.J. Do you:

A) Accept the B.J. and hope she forgets about it tomorrow.

B) Tell her ‘Why stop at a B.J.?’ and pressure her to do more.

C) Be a good guy and point her in the direction of your friend who never gets any action.

D) Tell her that’s inappropriate and she would regret it the next day, sit down with her and explain the effects of alcohol on her judgment and why she doesn’t really want to do what she just said; make her drink three full glasses of water; then call her parents, and tell them their daughter may have a serious problem which effects a large amount of college students.’

Uh, was it B?

It doesn’t matter what you answer because you can’t fail these little exercises. Instead they give you a little bit of encouragement as if you did get it right.

‘Oh, so close but not quite! Good try though!’ (Thank you.)’ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘

After that fun, little activity another long video of kids sitting on a couch in a common room comes up once again. At this point I figured out the trick to get around those long videos: put the video on mute, minimize the window and then do whatever you want.

Every couple minutes or so maximize the window to see if you’ve finished ‘learning’ yet.’

After the video they give you a list of some quick facts that’ll really stick and make you think twice about drinking.’

‘Did you know that 48% of teens regret drinking and driving?’

‘Did you know that 33% of teens who get alcohol poisoning don’t enjoy it?’

‘Did you know 50% of girls taken advantage of while intoxicated were not happy about it?’

‘Did you know 90% of UT students don’t read the paper so it makes no difference what I’m writing right now?’

Fun facts like that really get you involved in learning more about how to stay safe.

Then the last part of the ‘class’ jumps up on you, which is the final test you must get at least a 70% on to pass the class.

Remember all that fun you were having during those videos and the exercises?

Yeah, no more fun and games, time for serious business.
All of a sudden questions turn from ‘Is alcohol legal if you’re under 21?’ to ‘If Jake has two beers, five ounces of wine, one shot of vodka and a Jager bomb, what is his BAC?’

I clearly did not pay attention to what was going on.
Anyway, one failed test and a few guesses later, I passed.’

Another great couple hours of my life have gone by, and I’ve learned nothing.

John Jacobs may be reached at jjacobs@ut.edu.

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