After three years, Choice Driven program still a success
The Choice Driven program started in 2004 at the University of Nevada as an NCAA grant as a way to help students with their choices concerning alcohol and drugs. Today, over 1,700 students and faculty have taken the Choice Driven pledge to make their own decisions about drugs, alcohol and life.
In pledging to be choice driven, students and faculty are asked to commit to making their own choices including: choosing whether or not to drink, giving into peer pressure, drinking socially, setting personal limits, and not driving while under the influence.
Scooby Meredith, coordinator of alcohol and drug prevention programs, said a key tenet of the program is to be nonjudgmental toward students.
Being choice-driven does not mean students cannot drink or should never start drinking. The program wants to encourage students to make personal decisions about drugs and alcohol that are not influenced by peer pressure.
"We're not the DARE program," Meredith said. "Choice Driven is not a binding contract, but it is a way for students to make their own choices about drugs and alcohol."
Choice Driven offers LIVESTRONG-style, blue rubber wristbands to those who have taken the pledge.
"Wearing the wristbands shows that you are choice conscious," Meredith said.
Choice consciousness is one of the most important aspects of the Choice Driven campaign. For Meredith and his colleagues, it shows that students are making decisions based on what is best for them and their lifestyles – not based on what they think other students do.
Many university athletes and student leaders have been chosen to represent the Choice Driven campaign. Most recently, Nick Fazekas was selected. Across campus, Choice Driven posters featuring the star basketball player proudly display his Choice Driven pledge.
"We do a lot of background checks," Meredith said about the athletes and students they sponsor in the poster campaign. "We want students who exemplify great choices. They have to live the choice driven lifestyle."
Carol Millie, coordinator of the University's judicial services said that 32 percent to 34 percent of behavior violations on campus are alcohol and drug related compared to 16 percent of violations that are academic related.
Choice Driven has helped the number of alcohol and drug violations decrease in the last two years.
"The numbers are staying down, and I think it will continue," Millie said. "We will always have violations, that's life."
Millie and Meredith are two of many University employees that are working together to create a safe environment for students. The success of the Choice Driven program is measured with every new student that takes the pledge or wears the wristband.