January is is a time when many students consider setting resolutions for the new year. Often, these resolutions are focused on improving one’s health and fitness. This year, one campus group is encouraging students to put some thought into their alcohol consumption.
Thinking About My Drinking is a project led by What’s Your Cap? and Peer Health Mentors at the University of Saskatchewan. Starting on Jan. 1, WYC is challenging students to abstain from alcohol for the entire month. Participants are encouraged to reflect on the sobering experience and to attend meetings where they can discuss how alcohol relates to their personal spending habits, academic performance, social interactions and overall confidence levels.
WYC is a student-led initiative that was born out of a class project assigned by sociology professor Colleen Dell. In 2011, Dell asked her students to propose ideas and strategies that could be used to help prevent binge-drinking behaviour on campus.
Five years later, the sociology assignment now operates as a fully-functioning campaign. In conjunction with Peer Health Mentors through Student Health Services, WYC is actively involved with raising awareness about responsible alcohol consumption for students.
I caught up with WYC group facilitator Marlize Fourie to learn more about the event. She detailed how participating can be beneficial not only for health reasons, but for academic and financial reasons as well.
“Many students discovered that participating in this event really made them reflect on how prevalent alcohol was in society … how suddenly not being able to drink had a bigger impact on their life than expected,” Fourie said.
Fourie is actively encouraging students to sign up, although she warns it could be harder than many think to make it through the entire month.
“This event proves more challenging than I think participants initially anticipate, but those that stick it out find it to be a really rewarding and eye-opening experience,” Fourie said.
Many of the participants that do drop out of the challenge will do so in the first couple of weeks. WYC maintains that this is all the more reason for students to sign up, so participants are challenged to truly reflect on how alcohol or partying is affecting them.
Students are asked to blog weekly about their experiences and their entries are anonymously posted on the WYC Facebook page. For those who are curious, last year’s posts are still available for viewing.
Fourie added that she hopes that all participants will push through to the end.
“It would be a great start to their New Year!” she said.
Those participants who do make it through the month are invited to a reception that includes a free meal, guest speakers and a draw for an iPad Mini.
WYC is not explicitly an anti-alcohol group. They do not discourage drinking, but they do spend time promoting a culture of alcohol moderation around campus, sharing education about partying smart and the low-risk drinking guidelines for Canadians.
WYC is responsible for staging the annual car crash scene in front of Louis’ Pub each October to promote Party Smart Month. They also routinely partner up with the stress-relieving therapy dogs that appear at the campus libraries for PAWS Your Stress.
I plan on incorporating Thinking About My Drinking into my resolutions for 2017, and I have no doubt that signing up will give me a great start to the second term. If you are a student who wants to pledge, you can do so by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org before Jan. 1, 2017.
WYC will be in the Arts Tunnel in the coming weeks to raise awareness about safe partying over the winter break. They will also be available to answer any questions people may have about participating for the month of January.
For more information about the event, and to read last year’s testimonials, visit whatsurcap.ca/events/thinking-about-my-drinking/.
Graphic: Jeremy Britz / Photo Editor