In a very surprising move, Orange Coast Community College received a grant of almost a quarter million dollars ($220,000.00 to be exact), in order to fund a campus wide survey of students drinking habits. The study allegedly aims to reduce underage and high risk drinking among the student population, with an emphasis on DUI enforcement.
According to the Orange County Register, Similar studies have been conducted at four-year universities, but not much is known about the drinking habits of community college students, said Sylvia Worden, associate dean of student health services, in a statement. "No one really knows about alcohol use in community college. We expect to find out a lot," she said. "Our students don’t live in dorms and don’t participate in the Greek system. It’s very different." Some data indicates community college students drink less, but have worse outcomes compared to those of four-year university students, such as driving under the influence, Worden said. OCC has identified high-risk drinking as a problem for its students, according to recent results from a 388-student survey conducted using the Alcohol eCheckup to Go system, an alcohol education website designed by the San Diego State University Research Foundation. The OCC community has experienced two DUI-related tragedies in as many years, prompting campus leaders to address the issues of underage and high-risk drinking, according to the college’s grant proposal. Using the grant money, OCC’s new Alcohol Prevention Services will take a three-pronged approach to reducing drinking-related risks. The program will target new or inexperienced drinkers, who are most likely to respond to interventions, according to the grant proposal. The college will also identify sources of alcohol for new and inexperienced drinkers, as well as where they drink and driving distances, and enact a high-visibility DUI enforcement project. Trained OCC students will also help identify liquor sources and alcohol advertising in OCC neighborhoods and other areas frequented by its students. OCC also has plans to participate in the National College Health Assessment in spring 2012. The program will draw on existing partnerships with Costa Mesa police, as well as form new collaborations with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and current UC Irvine prevention efforts, according to the grant proposal. The OCC community has experienced two DUI-related tragedies in as many years, prompting campus leaders to address the issues of underage and high-risk drinking, according to the college’s grant proposal. In May, 14-year-old Ashton Sweet, a Northwood High School freshman and cheerleader, was killed by a former OCC student. In 2010, OCC student Cara Alexandra Lee, 20, was killed in a drunk-driving accident caused by Gustavo Adrian Vega, 23, another OCC student. Vega was recently sentenced to 20 years to life in prison for his second DUI.