Next week I will meet with the office of Undergraduate
Education to present the idea of integrating HRCD (and related issues) focused
discussion groups to every 1st year student’s Penn State experience.
I think that these groups have the potential to mend the problem both directly
and indirectly. Here’s what I mean:
First; so far, the only mandatory alcohol education at Penn
State has been Alcohol Edu -a program that although can be quite informative,
does not do much to change the student body’s motivation. In order for
motivational change to occur (by this I mean actually shifting the student
body’s desire to consume alcohol), then a more emotional and interactive
experience must be pursued. The discussion groups would ideally meet once a
week, be graded on both attendance and participation, and would be an extension
of the required freshman English courses (Engl 15/30). The sociology department
already runs it’s race relations course in much the same manner, where two
students lead a group of 15 students from the Soc 119 class, and each week
discussion topics are presented to the class in an informal manner.
Second, as an indirect benefit; because the groups will be an
extension of the required English class, freshmen will be exposed to the same
group of kids for an extra 50 minutes a week. This is huge because it gives
students the chance to make friends in a non-awkward environment, where they
might normally use alcohol as a social lubricant.
My hope is that the curriculum for the discussion group will
be written by HRCD consultants, and that it would force students to confront
the culture that surrounds them with a more critical lens, and ultimately bring
about a shift in university wide student culture.