Fresno State is again taking an aggressive stand to protect students from the dangers of alcohol poisoning, launching its massive educational campaign, “Protect Your Dog,” to make students aware of alcohol poisoning, how to prevent it and what to do if it happens.

Just two years after the death of student Phillip Dhanens from alcohol poisoning at an off-campus student party — and as the Bulldog football season opens Saturday — university officials hope students heed their message of alcohol poisoning awareness and prevention.

“We hope our students will make good choices — safe and appropriate decisions — in their lives that will further their academic and co-curricular goals in college,” said Dr. Frank Lamas, vice president for Student Affairs.

Two departments in his division – the newly renamed Student Health and Counseling Center and the Student Involvement office — have been working hand-in-hand with the university’s Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs Safety Council.

Led by director Maria Madrigal-Shaffer, the health center is expanding the Protect Your ‘Dogs campaign it started last year to areas nearby the campus. It is coordinated through the Drug & Alcohol Awareness & Wellness Guides (DAAWGs) program — a peer education group that operates within the Student Health Center. Initiatives include:

  • The new College is RADD program, a California College DUI Awareness Project. Fresno State will partner with local bars, restaurants and nightclubs to offer rewards like a free appetizer or non-alcoholic drink for using a designated driver:
  • Distributing alcohol poisoning awareness magnets and posters.

The health center campaign is just one major effort to educate and engage students in the battle against alcohol poisoning, said Georgianna Negron-Long, health educator for the Student Health Center.

Other efforts over the summer and this fall semester include:

  • Presentations on alcohol poisoning awareness during the Dog Days orientation sessions for incoming students. The presentation included a video reenactment of an incident and testimonies from two Fresno State student survivors of alcohol poisoning.
  • About 4100 new students completed the eCheckup To Go survey.  The students entered information about their drinking patterns and received feedback about their use and beliefs about alcohol use.
  • In October the campus will observe the annual National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness (NCAAW) week. The week of events kicks off with the Walk like MADD by the Mothers Against Drunk Driving on Saturday, Oct 18.

The Student Involvement office, which oversees the university’s recognition of student organizations, is actively working with the university’s 41 fraternities and sororities to raise awareness.

“Over the years, we have been proactively engaged in the process of developing and implementing an array of initiatives to meet that goal,” said Melissa Gnotti, director of the Student Involvement office. “We are continuing active partnership with our social Greek fraternity and sorority student leaders and members to deliver an outstanding, values-based student experience at Fresno State.”

These initiatives include continuing the delayed recruitment strategy for social Greek organizations that was implemented last year in response to Dhanens death. That event also resulted in the charter revocation of the Theta Chi chapter by its national organization and Fresno County District Attorney charges against three members.

The strategy prohibits all chapters from recruiting for new members until the sixth week of the fall semester.

“This provides a period of time for students to adjust to the campus community, focus on academic priorities and establish healthy habits for student success prior to beginning the process of joining a social Greek organization,” Gnotti said.

Additional efforts include education programs for new members, working with law enforcement officials to provide guidance to Greek student leaders and leadership training for Greek student leaders.

For more information about the Protect Your Dogs campaign, contact Negron-Long at 559.278.6712. For more information about Greek initiatives, contact Eddie Dominguez, Greek Affairs adviser, at 559.278.2741.

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