Tis the Season

“Fraternities must change.”

The national fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon took the bold initiative this month of announcing a ban on alcohol and other substances at all of its 215 chapters.

“Sigma Phi Epsilon and our peers have unfortunately earned a reputation for being organizations that promote alcohol consumption, misogyny and violence,” CEO Brian Warren said. “For SigEp, there can be no more discussion about maintaining that status quo. Fraternities must change.”

According to the Institute of Alcohol Studies, alcohol use is the leading cause of death, disease, and disability worldwide for people aged 15-49. This is a serious public health issue that deserves our attention.

Over the last few weeks, many universities have taken steps to combat the dangerous, and sometimes deadly, alcohol-related behaviors associated with Greek life.  The most recent—and closest to home—is the suspension of all Greek activity at Texas State University after the death of a 20-year-old pledge to a fraternity.

Texans Standing Tall is encouraged by the movement within the Greek community to work to end the normalization of alcohol for teenagers and young college students. Rather than supporting a narrative that claims alcohol use is “just a part of college life,” it’s important to remind students that college is a time for them to learn, grow, and develop skills for creating a bright and healthy future – that is the college experience we want them to strive for.

Tis the Season

Meet this year’s SBI campuses

By: Lucianne Nelson

In our work to create healthier and safer communities, Texans Standing Tall partners with colleges and universities across the state to accomplish those goals. Each year, Texans Standing Tall partners with several schools to implement the Screening and Brief Intervention project. Screening and Brief Intervention (SBI) for alcohol use is an evidence-based intervention to reduce risky drinking behaviors and related consequences. SBI is often conducted in counseling or judicial settings on college campuses after an individual has been injured or gotten in trouble with the law due to alcohol use, but Texans Standing Tall’s SBI project is innovative because SBI is implemented as a preventive measure prior to an alcohol-related injury or violation. This project has been shown to help reduce risky drinking behavior among college students in Texas.

Through the project, students at our partner campuses are approached in a non-confrontational manner, such as during a class or meeting. The person recruiting them – usually a student volunteer – pitches the screening tool and follow-up interview (the brief intervention) as a public health opportunity that may improve their school performance. Students complete the World Health Organization AUDIT survey, tally their score, and receive a score sheet with information about their drinking behaviors. Regardless of their score, all students then take their results to a trained interviewer who, in a private setting, offers to briefly discuss their scores (the motivational interview).

During the motivational interview the student identifies any problems that accompany or result from their alcohol use. The interviewer and student discuss contributing factors and consequences of risky alcohol use. Students who are moderate drinkers or abstinent receive reinforcement for positive behavior.

Meet the Campuses!

Texas A&M International University – Laredo, TX

  • Texas A&M International University has worked with us to implement this program before, so we are helping them develop a sustainable model of this program. As a member of the TAMU network, Texas A&M International is the largest campus we are working right now. We are pleased with their success, and are happy to have them joining us again.

Our Lady of the Lake University – San Antonio, TX

  • Our Lady of the Lake University is a private, four-year university. Our Lady of the Lake has a proactive approach to public health on their campus, and is always looking for opportunities to improve their campus community for their students. They learned of the SBI program with Texans Standing Tall through their local coalition, and this is their first year to be partnering with us. We look forward to helping them develop their SBI project this year!

San Antonio College – San Antonio, TX

  • SAC is a large campus within their community college network. Their campus is centrally located in San Antonio. Even though SAC is a two-year school, they provide a wide range of health services to their students. SAC is another new campus, and Texans Standing Tall is so excited to be partnering with this school.

Huston-Tillotson University – Austin, TX

  • Like Our Lady of the Lake, Huston-Tillotson is also a private, four-year university. They are also a historically black college, and – being in Austin – pretty much neighbors with Texans Standing Tall. This campus is also new this year, and their project is being developed by a bright group of student leaders who are eager to help their fellow students develop healthy lifestyle patterns.

Over the course of the next few months, each of these campus partners will plan and host an SBI event that is unique to their campus. Texans Standing Tall will provide assistance and support on an ongoing basis.