STEP program offers social alternatives

by Bridget M. Rohrer
Staff Writer

There’s something new within the Prevention Center this year. ULV students Shannon McCrea, Amy Hartnett, Cherryl Cercado and Martha Fernandez began the program and have been working on a new peer health services program with six others.

Under the advisement of Tracy Germann, student substance abuse prevention programs coordinator, this new program, Students Together Educating Peers (STEP), is designed to help students become more aware of their actions, as well as take responsibility for them.

The STEP program may be new to ULV, but it is not new to other schools. After talking to other schools such as UC Irvine, Michigan State and Cal State San Bernardino, Germann and her staff put together a program to educate students about driving under the influence, date rape and sexually transmitted diseases.

“As the program advances and interest grows, more students will be helped,” said Germann.

STEP isn’t like Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD) or “Just Say No” programs. It goes further, in that STEP is aimed at helping people understand they do not need to get drunk to have a good time or to meet people.

Germann believes that there are a number of positive things that SADD does; however, their main emphasis rests on designating a driver, whereas STEP is interested in encouraging people to consider what they are doing and be ready to accept the consequences of their actions.

In the future, peer counselors may become a part of the program to help with the emotional healing of people who are living with the consequences of their decisions.

“I’m tired of hearing ‘Just Say No.’ People need to understand there are responsibilities they must take for their actions when they decide to just say yes,” said McCrea, a sophomore and the Student Health Coordinator. “If we can be there to let them know what they’re doing and help them, that’s good. That is what the program is about.”

In the past, Social Alternatives, another program within the Prevention Center, has hosted alternative activities such as miniature golf and bowling, instead of parties that encourage drinking and drugs. They were fairly well attended.

This year, with the establishment of the STEP program, the Prevention Center looks forward to having more students involved and participating in the activities that are hosted by all programs under its guidance.

“As the programs grow, I’d like to see us be invited to speak in University 100 classes and other classes as well,” said Germann. “I’d also like to see us talking to small groups of residents, being asked to speak to fraternities and sororities and getting involved with on campus activities.

“Our messages don’t necessarily need to be huge but they do need to be constant. That can happen through a number of different vehicles,” she said.

In a poll conducted in 1993, Germann found that 56 percent of the student body had consumed an alcoholic beverage within the previous 30 days. She also pointed out that 88 percent believe ULV students consume alcohol at least one time per week.

“If we can just try to align the students perception with reality, I believe we’ll cut the consumption of alcohol as well as make students more aware of the realities,” said Germann.

The Prevention Center is excited about the new year ahead of them and looks forward to having more students get involved with the programs that are being created.

Bridget M. Rohrer, Editorial Assistant
Bridget M. Rohrer
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