Beer goggles really do exist, as a group of new University of Wollongong students discovered recently.
In an effort to change drinking culture, the students were asked to carry out a range of tasks while wearing glasses that distorted their vision and spatial awareness – much like the effects of too much alcohol.
Walking in a straight line, catching a ball, even recognising if someone was directly behind them became that much harder for students as the glasses increasingly distorted their vision according to training co-ordinator Mary Sparks.
‘’We train our student leaders to run drug and alcohol programs for our new residents coming to uni for the first time,’’ she said.
‘’The aim is to educate them about the harmful effects of alcohol in terms of their health and well-being as well as their safety.
The aim is to educate them about the harmful effects of alcohol in terms of their health and well-being as well as their safety.- Mary Sparks, student residence manager
‘’Included in this is the activity where they put on different googles of varying strengths – so the first pair might simulate vision at a blood alcohol level of 0.05 and the strength increases from there.
‘’They were surprised at just how hard it was to tackle certain tasks, and also when they realised somone had been behind them the whole time and they hadn’t noticed – which teaches them to be aware of their personal safety.’’
The training forms part of the UniCAN program which aims to reduce alcohol-related incidents and promote responsible drinking at Australian universities.
Ms Sparks’ ongoing commitment to this training has seen her named the inaugural recipient of the UniCAN Leadership Award for 2017.
The student residence manager of UOWs Bangalay accommodation said it was ‘’deeply satisfying’’ to know that her efforts were helping enhance students’ safety and well-being.
‘’I can’t emphasise enough the importance of ensuring our students are well equipped with the tools and resources they need to assist them in preventing incidents and managing scenarios should they be faced with an issue on or off campus.’’
The session was held as part of orientation week, with training also covering areas including bullying and harassment on social media.