Ann Sesti, director of student wellness and engagement at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, is the recipient of a $40,000, two-year grant from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to develop and implement a program on alcohol education targeted to graduate students and veteran and military-affiliated students at IUP.

The “Help-a-Hawk Reducing Dangerous and Underage Drinking” initiative will fund work to develop an education and intervention campaign for these students. Programming will span the 2020–21 academic year.

“This grant is designed to focus on two often-overlooked populations of students on college campuses: veterans and graduate students,” Sesti said.

She will work collaboratively with the IUP Military and Veterans Resource Center, the School of Graduate Studies and Research, deans, department chairs, and the IUP Graduate Student Assembly on the project, which employs a two-pronged approach.

“First, we will develop and administer a survey to all graduate and veteran and military-affiliated students to gather general information, including their drinking patterns, risk factors, stress level, coping mechanisms, and general knowledge about alcohol and its effects,” Sesti said. “Individuals will be given an opportunity to self-identify if they believe their drinking behavior is high-risk or dangerous.”

Students who self-identify as having high-risk or dangerous drinking behaviors will be given information on resources and individuals who can provide support.

“Second, for those students who do not self-identify as having high-risk behaviors, but who still may be high-risk, two online educational and intervention tools will be offered: Alcohol eCheckup to Go and Caring TXT. Information about these resources also will be shared on campus and through social media,” Sesti said.

The success of the program will be evaluated through surveys of participating students. Survey information also will be used to develop educational videos for the university's YouTube channel to address reducing high-risk and dangerous drinking.

The project funds the development of a print and social media educational outreach program, advertising on social media, and a social norming marketing campaign that promotes responsible alcohol consumption by those of legal age. Sesti also will attend a professional conference offered by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

Sesti will work with community organizations, including the Open Door, Indiana's drug and alcohol facility; and the Armstrong, Clarion, and Indiana County Drug and Alcohol Commission for treatment resources and educational programming.

About the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs Program

IUP's Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Program provides leadership to the university community in reducing alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use and related negative consequences. ATOD administers and supports prevention, education, and intervention services that empower students to make informed choices about alcohol and other drugs; educate students about how to make lower-risk choices; emphasize health and safety issues related to alcohol and other drug use; encourage civility and community; and foster changes in the environment at IUP that will reduce the illegal and high-risk use of alcohol and its related consequences.