Students must engage with alcohol education programs while institutions must constantly seek to improve them.

20-year-old Texas State University student Tara Monroe did not remember whatever alcohol education lessons she had learned when she chose to drive drunk in March 2015. Now, she has a DWI charge and drives around the Texas State campus in a battery-operated Barbie Jeep, a toy car designed for small children. 

If Monroe simply chose to use her Barbie Jeep to get around Texas State’s hilly campus, her story wouldn’t be so controversial or even that interesting. It’s the reason behind why she bought the Jeep off Craigslist that makes the situation infuriating. The bubblegum-colored Barbie Jeep distracts from the very real issue of drunk driving. Had Monroe used her toy Jeep to raise awareness for drunk driving, this story would be different. Had someone been with her when she chose to get behind the wheel and stopped her from driving drunk, this story wouldn’t exist at all. 

Monroe’s cavalier attitude towards her charge reflects a need for better usage of alcohol education resources on college campuses. 

In 2014, UT’s University Health Services replaced AlcoholEDU with Think About It, an online course that teaches incoming UT students under the age of 21 about alcohol safety and other positive health practices. Think About It reaches thousands of students every semester and is a large improvement from AlcoholEDU, which consisted of long modules and boring videos. 

According to Jessica Hughes Wagner, manager of health promotion with UHS, the university has found a more diverse and engaging program with Think About It.

“We know from our data and our experience that alcohol is a really important topic among college students,” Wagner said. “We really do our best here at UHS to pick programs and services that meet the needs of college students and are appropriate for Longhorns.” 

Students can also find alcohol education resources from peers and social groups. According to Marilyn Russell, the director of sorority and fraternity life in the Office of the Dean of Students, UT student organizations are required to have member representatives who ensure the safety of all members.

“Authorized representatives complete both online and in-person training on a variety of topics including alcohol each year,” Russell wrote in an email. “They are required to present what they’ve learned to the entire student organization as a part of creating a safety plan for the year.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reported that 1,825 students ages 18 to 24 die every year from alcohol-related injuries, in addition to the nearly 600,000 students that are injured. UT offers many engaging and continually improving programs that can help lower these devastating statistics. 

Without relevant and efficient resources, students will be stuck sitting for a couple hours in front of their computers and then forgetting all of the information, or cheering for Barbie Jeep Girl and her offensive carelessness. 

Olivia Arredondo is an English junior from Austin. Follow her on Twitter @oliviaatx.