College exposes students to a number of new experiences and decisions, one of which may be whether or not to drink alcohol. We want parents/guardians to be aware of the changes their students may face at college and be equipped to talk with their student about these issues. We encourage you to speak with your student about alcohol prior to their arrival on campus and periodically throughout their college career.
When speaking with your student, consider the following:
- Be honest and straightforward with your student – talk about expectations, both yours and theirs.
- Remind your student of legal issues – alcohol consumption is illegal by those under the age of 21 in the state of Minnesota.
- Discuss the alcohol policy at school – the possession, distribution, or consumption of alcoholic beverages is prohibited at St. Olaf.
- Normalize the fact that not everyone in college drinks – among St. Olaf students, it is perceived that 97% of students drink alcohol; however, 22% of St. Olaf students have never used alcohol.
If your student does choose to drink, reinforce protective behaviors:
- Alternate water with alcoholic beverages
- Avoid drinking games
- Set a limit/keep track of the number of drinks consumed
- Eat before/during drinking
- Pace drinks to one or fewer per hour
- Stay with the same group of friends while drinking
- Use a designated driver
- Do not accept open drinks from someone else or drink from a cup left unattended
Teach your student the following signs of alcohol poisoning:
- A person is unconscious or semi-conscious and cannot be awakened when touched, spoken to, or shaken
- A person has cold, clammy or pale or bluish skin
- A person has slowed breathing (longer than 10 seconds between breaths)
- A person is vomiting while sleeping/passed out or is not fully conscious during or after vomiting
- A person drank a large quantity of alcohol and collapsed
*A person does not need to exhibit all of these symptoms to have alcohol poisoning.
There are numerous resources to help your student succeed:
- The Wellness Center– students can talk to peer educators one-on-one about health and wellness issues or attend one of our programs on issues of alcohol and other drug use, sexual health, mental health, or physical health.
- The Counseling Center– offers individual counseling, workshops, testing, consultations, and referrals. Services are provided at no cost to full-time St. Olaf students.
- Dean of Students Office– deans serve as consultants to students about personal and academic matters.
- BASICS (Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students)- helps students explore alcohol and drug use in a non-judgmental environment. This session is scheduled on an individual basis via the Counseling Center.
- eCHECKUP TO GO– students input their alcohol use history and receive a personalized report to help them make safer choices.