Pomona Ramps Up Pressure in Alcohol Safety Program

Pomona College
first-years received an email from the college Oct. 6 bearing a new stipulation to Pomona’s alcohol education and bystander intervention program: “If you do not sign up for and participate in
a TAAP session, you will be placed last on the room draw list for next year.”

Teaching Alcohol Abuse Prevention (TAAP), inspired by a similar, discussion-based alcohol education system at
Clemson University, was
founded two years ago, said Ellie Ash-Balá, the Associate Director of Smith Campus Center and Student Programs, who sent the email announcing the change. Geared largely toward incoming first-year students, it
acts as an interactive supplement to the mandatory online alcohol training

TAAP sessions will now be entirely student-led to
further encourage first-year students to engage
with each other. First-years who participate in
the program will continue to receive a $10 monetary
reward in Claremont Cash, but only
if they fulfill the new criterion that 75 percent of their fellow sponsor group
members also attend. And, as the announcement email stated, the administration will link participation in the program to housing options for the following year.  

“This is about as mandatory as we’re
going to get,” Ash-Balá said. “The
Claremont Cash incentive was just not enough to get students to participate.”

Ash-Balá said that approximately a third of the class of 2017 attended a TAAP session, down from approximately half of the class of 2016, which participated in the inaugural TAAP

In response, the administration
decided that those who do not attend at least one session will forfeit the
room draw number they receive for one at the bottom of the list. Ash-Balá clarified that “this doesn’t count as students’ bottom number,” referring to
the administrative guarantee that students will get a low, a medium and a high room draw
number—relative to the rest of their class—over the course of their three housing draws at Pomona. 

In contrast to the administration’s interest in the program, some students do not find TAAP useful. 

“It was a waste of time,” John
Ernst PO ’18 said. “We had already covered the same things in Alcohol Edu.”

Caroline Greer
PO ’18 said that the program is for a “really good cause,” but agreed that the information is already covered in AlcoholEdu. 

“It seems really underhanded
that they make it about housing,” she added.

Students of Pomona College Commissioner of Clubs Joseph Reynolds PO ’15, who has worked with the program since
its inception, said that there is some redundancy between the AlcoholEdu and TAAP. For
Reynolds, sessions held later in the semester
would be ideal, giving students more of an opportunity to experience the alcohol culture on campus. 

Reynolds stressed the importance of the program and
especially its bystander education.

“The mentality that I am not participating with
substances so I don’t need to be educated or receive education to be a helpful
community member is flawed,” Reynolds said. “If I cut my finger, do you not give me a Band-Aid?
Being an aware and engaged person in this community means not just serving
yourself but serving others who may need you.”

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