By: Eitan Lipsky  | 

Alcohol Awareness Training Comes to Campus

Alcohol Awareness-Dean Nissel (1)

If a student were to sit down and write a list of all of the things that YU stands for, he or she would likely be able to spend a few minutes composing a wide array of flowery terms that reflected the university’s essence. Some of these terms would likely relate to the idealistic merging of ancient values together with modern ones, while others would focus on the great tradition of Jewish leaders who have emerged from our quaint campus, and others might even relate to the inner network of students who look out for each other and help each other succeed. These, however, are some words that would probably not appear on that list: party school.

Last month, the YU administration sent out an email informing the student body that it had elected to begin a new alcohol awareness initiative. This initiative requires every student to complete an online course about the effects of alcohol consumption and is a necessary prerequisite in order to register for Spring 2016 classes. The course, which takes about an hour to complete, is composed of many different sections which enable students to acquire a thorough understanding of alcohol consumption’s risk factors, with much of it focused specifically on college students.

Dating back several decades, alcohol consumption and possession have been prohibited on the YU campus. This policy is enforced fairly strictly, as even at the YU Purim Mesibah (festive meal), a time at which one might think the rules would be more lax, security guards dismiss any student suspected of having consumed alcohol. According to Dean of Students, Dr. Chaim Nissel, the administration is aware, based on previously conducted research, that there are significantly fewer students at YU who consume alcohol regularly, save for kiddush on Shabbat, than in most other universities.

If all this is true, why the move towards initiating a program about alcohol awareness? “We know that drinking does occur and at times can be excessive, leading to illness and potentially dangerous situations. Most colleges have a mandatory alcohol education programs in place and we felt it was time YU did more to educate our students about alcohol safety,” said Dean Nissel. After making this assessment, Dean Nissel, together with Rabbi Kenneth Brander, Vice President for University and Community Life, secured the approval of several Roshei Yeshiva who reacted positively to the initiative.

Overall, the course is an informative, interactive way to become more attuned to real facts about alcohol consumption. As to what message YU students should be looking to take from this course, Dean Nissel explained, “We selected this course specifically because it does not deliver the “alcohol is evil” message. The course does, however, educate students about the potential danger of excessive alcohol consumption and teaches them how to monitor themselves, their friends and to promote safety. These goals can be achieved by not drinking, by drinking moderately and by friends keeping an eye on each other. By completing this interactive course and sharing their own perceptions of alcohol use, they will become more aware of the effects of alcohol and learn about metabolism, minimizing high-risk drinking patterns and better decision making. The goal is really to help promote safety for all our students, while at YU and for the rest of their lives.”

The administration welcomes students to offer feedback as to how they feel about this course. Dean Nissel can be reached by email at or found in Rubin Hall 106. Students in need of emotional or psychological support should contact the YU Counseling Center at