Alcohol abuse can interfere with a college student's education with negative outcomes such as poor academic performance, property damage, injuries, deaths, and unprotected sex. By using playful humor and hard facts, motivational speaker Elaine Pasqua quickly caught the attention of more than 600 students attending a program at Lander University in mid-September.
"Sex and Excess: Surviving the Party" packed the auditorium of the Abney Cultural Center on Sept. 21 as students from sororities, fraternities, athletics and other organizations engaged in learning about the effects of alcohol on decision-making skills.
Pasqua’s expertise in high-risk drinking, sexual assault, sexual health, diversity and inclusion, and drug abuse resonated throughout the night. The energetic program brought students on stage to interact in scenarios depicting how easily sexual infections can be transmitted.
The program, along with administrative training was sponsored by Lander University's Police Department, Bearcat Athletics, the Division of Student Affairs, and the university's Title IX Team. "This education and training are critical in preventing sexual violence and keeping our campus community safe,” said Jeannie McCallum, Director of Human Resources, and Title IX Coordinator at Lander University. “We provide continuous programming efforts focusing on high-risk behaviors, sexual assault, awareness, and prevention; and are fortunate to have community and campus partners who assist with these efforts.”
Pasqua's keen knowledge and sense of humor gives her the ability to connect with students by engaging them in conversations about these heavy topics. A realist, she advocates drinking responsibly but also connects the use of alcohol to date rape and date rape drugs. "As alcohol floods the brain, people lose their ability to hone in on social cues, and they lose their instincts,” she cautioned the students.
Challenging the audience to think about bystander intervention, she used common sense by saying "We can all step in to prevent sexual assault and keep each other safe. First of all, if everyone is wasted at a party, who can look out for one another?"
"Our students walked away with many lessons learned," observed Jill Franklin, director of Fraternity and Sorority Life and assistant director of Student Activities at Lander. "They really enjoyed Elaine _ laughing throughout the entire program."
"Regardless of whether their laughter was due to humor or feeling uncomfortable by the seriousness of the discussion," Franklin continued "they all walked away with information that will help them make safer decisions not only at Lander, but throughout their life."
Pasqua encouraged students to identify “spotters” for the evening __ those who pledge not to drink alcohol during the party but rather to remain alert and ready to intervene if necessary. She demonstrated how a spotter could help prevent someone from passing out or overdosing from alcohol poisoning by intervening in simple ways such as influencing the intoxicated person to switch to water if they've consumed too much alcohol; or by remaining with that person to prevent him or her from wandering off alone where they might get injured or pass out alone.
Relating the need for intervention in preventing sexual assaults, she quipped off a few hard facts, “In 80-90 percent of these cases, one or both of the people are under the influence.” Students were instructed to observe body language and look for social cues of those attending the party. "If it looks like someone is feeding another person drinks to get them plastered, or you watch them lead a drunk person out of the room, it could indicate the need for intervention" she commented.
Sharing a quick rescue technique, Pasqua demonstrated using a 'little white lie' to interrupt the scene. "You could say something along the lines of 'You know what? I've been meaning to tell you something all day, but kept forgetting', then grabbing them by the hand and leading them away."
A five-time nominee for "Campus Activities Magazine" Readers Choice Awards- Best Speaker of the Year, the nationally recognized speaker has addressed thousands at colleges and universities about high-risk behaviors and personal empowerment since 1995. She has been featured in USA Today, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Knight-Ridder News Service, and on National Public Radio (NPR) and Time Warner Cable TV.
A dynamic speaker, Pasqua has worked with the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Football League (NFL) and the Major League Baseball (MLB); providing player development training for teams such as the Carolina Panthers, New York Giants, New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Philadelphia Phillies.