The Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Education began training peer educators last week for workshops targeted toward helping students make healthy decisions in various aspects of college life.
GWise, an acronym for GW’s Impact on Substance Education, holds events for different student organizations and residence halls. The seven workshops – titled everything from “Love in the Club” to “Party 101” – are each specified to different realms of socializing.
Senior Angelica Harris, president of GWise Peer Educators, said GWise hopes to broaden their presence on campus through such programs.
“We recognize that there is a need for our presence and our passion for drug and alcohol education on campus, as there is at many universities around the nation,” Harris said. “Our aim is to make alcohol and drug education more mainstream, and less something that people should be afraid of or hesitant to participate in.”
After the passing of Phi Sigma Sigma sorority sister Laura Treanor last January due to alcohol poisoning, GWise has also taken initiative in reaching out to the Greek-letter life community.
“The entire GW Community was undoubtedly shaken to its core by the unfortunate and untimely death of Ms. Treanor,” Harris said. “In response to that, GWise has certainly taken a vow to continue our presence on campus, and increase it in any way we can. As such, we have decided to build relationships with other student and Greek organizations, in efforts to reach a broader audience.”
“Bravado and Binge Drinking” and “Woman to Woman” are two workshops that GWise created that are targeted directly to fraternity and sorority members, respectively.
“By collaborating with [the Greek-letter life community] on our events, and encouraging them to contact us with any ideas they may have for events in the future, we hope to increase our presence,” Harris said.
GWise also tries to reach out to the student body with help from former students who have been EMeRGed or faced similar consequences from substance abuse.
“Sometimes those who maybe have been hospitalized or sanctioned in some other way attend our events, or even join the organization, simply to share their story, and we appreciate that,” Harris said. “I think that including those who have dealt with some of the negative consequences of using alcohol and drugs in our programming is very important, as it stands as a testament that our presence is necessary on campus.”
Although GWise strives to help students regulate their alcohol consumption, Harris stressed that “it is very important that students understand that GWise does not promote abstinence from alcohol.” Instead, GWise provides resources to “promote responsible decision-making.”
“We give students the facts about both drugs and alcohol, and encourage them to make decisions based on that information,” Harris said. “The GWise peers understand that we are not here to tell people what to do, nor are we here to judge our peers. We do all this because we care about our peers, we have a passion for helping them in any way we can, and a pride in and commitment to the university that wills us to do what we do as peer educators.”