Wednesday, October 2, 2013

HUs Director of Student Counseling Center Sits on Panel Among Shaq, Speaking on Alcohol Prevention

On Sept. 18, Hampton University’s own Dr. Linda Kirkland-Harris, director of the HU’s Student Counseling Center had the honor of being a panelist at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Annual Legislative Conference. As a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research and educational institute, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation aims to help improve the socioeconomic circumstances of African Americans and other underserved communities.

The panel, which was sponsored by Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II (Missouri) was on a topic Kirkland-Harris was familiar with, alcohol consumption/ binge drinking among African-American students.

Recently working with the Virginia Dept. of Alcoholic Beverage Control with “Operation Undergrad 1023-2013”, a grant in which they entitled “SOBER CHILL”, Kirkland-Harris spoke on the many collaborations that took place with the university on regards to alcohol education. “SOBER CHILL”, explained by Kirkland-Harris had 5 objectives: To provide face to face fun without the ‘aid’ of alcohol, to develop engaging formats for alcohol education, to create a culturally competent educational DVD, to promote awareness of HU’s Police Department’s (HUPD) use of AlcoSensors, and to reduce by 25 percent the number of alcohol offenses recorded by HUPD.

Many may think that alcohol consumption is not that big of an issue, but the abuse of alcohol in younger communities is getting more serious.

“With regard to the younger community, published research consistently indicates that throughout the country, first year (followed by second year) students are most at risk of alcohol abuse/binge drinking, explained Dr. Kirkland-Harris.”

 “In addition, the most vulnerable time in the academic year is the first few weeks because of the combination of being released from parental monitoring and a lot of free and low pressure time on students’ hands. Young ladies are of special concern because older male students and community members “prey” (student language) upon their naïveté and desire to demonstrate “I know what I’m doing” leading them to dangerous decision-making.”

Other advocates on the panel included Dr. Shaquille O’Neal who has partnered with the Century Council (a group of distillers fighting drinking drunk driving and underage drinking) for the purpose of reducing binge drinking among young people. Many of you may be thinking “Shaq, An advocate of stopping underage drinking? Really?” O’neal has seen that social media and comedy are effective strategies for conveying prevention education and on the panel displayed a clip of a Godfrey the Comedian video clip. He wants to reach younger adults with an “It’s not ok” message.

Others on the panel included, Ralph Blackman, director of the Century Council (alcohol education) and Dr. Linda Loubert of Morgan State University, director of a study on binge drinking at HBCUs.

Dr. Linda Kirkland-Harris with Dr. Shaquille O'Neal

Mechala Simpson
Hampton University 15’

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