GENESEO – A new alcohol risk management program for students in fraternities and sororities began piloting at SUNY Geneseo on Monday, after two researchers traveled east to gather data, studying how the program can work in an active Greek community.
According to Sarah Covell, Alcohol and Other Drug Program Coordinator at the college, the program, Training On Greeks and Alcohol, or TOGA, hosted two pilot sessions Monday and will host another two on Tuesday, each at 90 minutes and limited to 25 attendees. This follows plans announced last Fall.
“The Greeks here on campus were very receptive,” said Lindsey Fabian, Senior Project Coordinator of TOGA and one of the researchers from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. “We learned more about what Greek life was like in Geneseo, and we’re happy to pilot the program here.”
In an e-mail reminder to Greeks from Wendi Kinney, Assistant Dean of Students for Fraternal Life and Off Campus Services, it was advised that each organization register at least one individual for the training. According to Fabian, the four sessions overview TOGA policies and encourage students to go back to their organizations and decide on ones to implement. Students will participate in follow-up with TOGA trainers online, contributing to the researchers’ data and possibly becoming program-certified.
Although the piloting has just begun in Geneseo, TOGA has been on the drawing boards of other campuses–born on those at the University of Minnesota–for years. Dr. Toben Nelson, University project leader in the state of North Stars and Gophers and 10,000 lakes, was looking for partners when he got in touch with Covell about bringing the program to Geneseo.
“The fact is that it is a collaborative effort between my office and the Office of Greek Life to increase awareness and safety both on and off campus,” said Covell. “Nobody wants a party guest or friend to get sick or die from an alcohol overdose.”
While the program advises protocols and practices, Covell noted that TOGA does not seek to operate in a top-down manner. Rather than enforce policies, TOGA strives to create collaborative efforts towards alcohol management within Greek organizations.
“I think our whole plan is to empower Greek leaders to help them make decisions within their organizations, helping them reduce potential liability and potential alcohol-related harms” said Fabian, again one of the researchers from UMinn.
Attendees of today’s piloting sessions will follow-up with TOGA trainers via the internet and phone. In two months, students in fraternities and sororities can become TOGA-certified.
“The plan is to implement policies and make them sustainable,” said Fabian. “That way, when new leadership comes in, the new leaders already know what the game plan is at the party on Saturday night.”