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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

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Red Watch Confronts Toxic Drinking

The Red Watch Band Organization is a national campaign that trains students to diffuse alcohol related emergencies. Despite the extensive alcohol prevention that all universities — including Stony Brook University — already provide through a mandatory program for freshmen, the new Red Watch Band takes an active approach to prevent alcohol-related sickness and death.

As Director of the National Red Watch Movement Lara Hunter said in a press conference Wednesday, ‘the program empowers students.’ Students who volunteer for the four-hour training program are given the tools, knowledge and courage to act in inevitable situations that arise in every college environment.

The Red Watch Band is one of the most innovative alcohol prevention programs to date and one of the only programs to take a practical approach toward college drinking. The program recognizes that in such an environment drinking will take place, and emergencies that arise from binge drinking will need to be addressed so as to prevent deaths.

The Red Watch Band was founded in 2008 after a Stony Brook University faculty member lost a loved one to alcohol overdose. An education campaign was formed to get students involved, as peers tend to influence each other in a positive way. Since the organization was formed, the training programs continue to fill up at astounding rates. The free training program has already run out of spaces for September. Though space is still available for October, the twice a month sessions are going fast.

As the Dean of Students and Vice President of Academic Affairs Jerrold L. Stein said at the press conference on Wednesday, ‘the big problem is changing college culture.’ He refers to the most common cause of death on college campuses: alcohol.

The Red Watch Band students receive a red watch to signify their completion of the training, and once those bearing the watches — at the helm of a potentially sinking ship involving a fellow student, or friend who has drank too much — can prevent death. The trained students know what to do and when to bring someone to a hospital, or when to perform CPR, which is also taught and certified in the Red Watch Band training.
This campaign began in Stony Brook and has received national acclaim, as not just the SUNY schools, but universities all over the country are adopting it. To date, there have been 90 students trained in the 2008-2009 school year and another 120 in the 2009 Summer Session.

The Red Watch Band has even taken a direct approach at the infamous Anheuser-Busch campaign wherein Bud Light cans sport school colors. Clare Rose, the distributer for Bud Light on Long Island will not deliver these cans to any place within the Stony Brook community. Anheuser-Busch has also agreed not to distribute the ‘school-colored’ cans to any community where schools have complained. With the Red Watch Band, the campaign for safe students in the midst of alcohol has now become a lot stronger.’

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