Alcohol & Your SU Student
a parent and family perspective
My name is Ryan Hamachek and I’m the Director of Wellness and Health Promotion at Seattle University. My office, along with the student based Health and Wellness Crew (better known as HAWC) empower healthy decision making through education, prevention, and peer support. We focus on physical wellness, mental health, alcohol and other drugs, as well as healthy relationships.
I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to meet many of you at Summer in Seattle, I spent most of my time with your student in sessions talking about wellness. I’m writing today to ask for your help in continuing a conversation that I started about alcohol. This is one of those 5 minute conversations Dr. Michele Murray mentioned in her student development session.
We require all incoming students to complete an anonymous online alcohol reflection called eCHECKUP TO GO between now and September 15. They will answer a series of questions and then receive personalized feedback. Once they electronically verify they've finished, their requirement is complete.
It’s my hope that you will then have a conversation about family expectations, discuss potential challenges, and take a few moments to share some words of wisdom with your student. To help start that conversation I've compiled some thoughts below. If your student is in recovery, I’m happy to speak with them about getting connected as they transition to a new environment. Many thanks for your continued support of your student’s holistic development as they join the SU community!
If you have any questions, I can be reached at (206) 296-2593.
Director of Wellness and Health Promotion
SU students often come with strong relationships with parent(s) and family and they look to you as role models. They've already learned a lot about what is acceptable regarding drinking plus, 70% of high school seniors report having tried alcohol*.
Points to consider:
- How is alcohol viewed / used in your home? Is alcohol present in your house? Is it common at meals or only at celebrations? Do people in your house model responsible drinking?
- Do you expect your student will not drink until they are 21 or not at all? Do you expect your student will drink underage? How might they do so responsibly?
- How, if at all, is alcohol incorporated in your religion or faith tradition?
- Do you have a family history of alcohol abuse or dependence?
- What happens if family expectations are in conflict with University expectations and policies?
- Do you want your student to notify you if they are found in violation of our alcohol policy? What kind of reaction can they expect from you?
* Monitoring the Future, 2011
While 1 in 5 Seattle U undergrads don’t drink at all, this means 80% have had something to drink at some point**. Which also means your student will likely encounter a situation where they’ll need to make decisions about drinking.
Points to consider:
- Identify priorities such as attending classes, staying physically well, or excelling as an athlete and how alcohol use could impact those.
- Encourage your student to chat with friends/roommate(s) about what they want and don’t want regarding alcohol. Peer pressure works both ways and friends can support good decision making.
- Discuss the signs of alcohol poisoning, how to respond to a friend in an emergency situation, and the Redhawks Care amnesty policy. These are all things we talked about at Summer in Seattle.
Words of Wisdom
You have perspective to share and your student is listening! SU students tend to be responsible when they choose to drink with 75% drinking five or fewer drinks when they go out**.
Points to consider:
- Discuss what they learned from taking the eCHECKUP TO GO and see if anything was surprising.
- Talk honestly about what you like about alcohol personally and share what you don’t like about alcohol. (if applicable)
Risk reduction tips when/if your student chooses to drink
- Alternate non-alcoholic with alcoholic drinks
- Avoid drinking games
- Determine in advance not to exceed a set number of drinks
- Eat before and/or during drinking
- Have a friend help identify when you’ve had enough
- Keep track of how many drinks being consumed
- Pace drinks to one or fewer an hour
- Stay with the same group of friends
- Use a designated driver
** Seattle University - National College Health Assessment, 2013