Lafene continues promoting alcohol safety during a pandemic

Lafene's 21st Birthday Project emphasizes safe drinking practices as students become the drinking age. (Archive Photo by Katharine Schooler | Collegian Media Group)

Lafene Health Center plans to offer virtual appointments and coupons as part of it’s 21st Birthday Project with a pandemic twist.

The project focuses on safe consumption of alcohol, not the total elimination of drinking by asking students to identify one or two skills and strategies to reduce their risk of developing unhealthy drinking habits.

Natalie Mullin, senior in biology and WellCat ambassador, described the project as a “judgement-free space” that allows students to be completely honest, focusing less on the birthday itself and more on how students plan to be safe with alcohol.

Jennifer Miller, Lafene health promotions director, said the project is a good opportunity for students to learn more about drinking risks and how to mitigate those risks.

“We are not trying to keep you from having fun on your 21st birthday,” Miller said.

Since campus closed in March to slow the local spread of COVID-19, Lafene wants to invite students who turned 21st birthday in March, April or May to participate in their session now.

The project is staggering appointments throughout the semester to give students who missed it the same resources and opportunities, Katt said.

In-person appointments for 21st Birthday Project sessions are still available. However, to limit students congregating in person to make appointments, the signup process is by email invitation only.

Right now, Miller said the project is trying to find the balance between students wanting to come in and still feel safe concerning COVID-19.

Megan Katt, health educator and Lafene adviser, said they plan to begin virtual sessions before in-person classes end in November. Online participants will receive virtual coupon books rather than the physical coupon book in-person participants receive.

“There will still be the same freebies and incentives,” Katt said.

Students are asked to wear a mask when attending an in-person session, and Miller said Lafene installed new plexiglass screens between students and presenters for an added layer of safety.