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Speaker hopes to make students think before they drink

When’s the last time you had a few too many drinks?

“A Few Too Many: Our Campus Culture of Alcohol” by Lori Hart, Ph.D. is a program that is coming to Florida Gulf Coast University. Hart aims to challenge students in a fun, casual way.

Hart has a background in higher education and got her start with public speaking in 1999 at conferences and conventions at universities, but has been a full-time public speaker since 2001.

“I don’t like to think of myself as a public speaker, but rather a facilitator that knows how to craft a message for a large audience,” Hart said. “I have a lot of audience involvement and activities. Not cheesy games, but ways to get people involved so it’s not just me lecturing.”

Priya Thomas, director of prevention and wellness at FGCU, selected Hart from a company called Campus Speak, which provides different speakers that cover different topics to universities. FGCU has been working with Campus Speak for alcohol speakers since 2007.

“We haven’t had Dr. Hart here in a while. She’s very lighthearted but direct,” Thomas said. “She has a great sense of humor, she’s honest, and she works with Greek life and students so she knows the issues and concerns.”

According to prevention and wellness’ Most Eagles campaign, 82.7 percent of FGCU students consume alcohol once per week or less. The survey from 2012 also states that 76.2 percent of FGCU students average three or fewer drinks a week and 78.7 percent of FGCU students have not driven while under the influence in the past year.

The point of having Hart speak is to generate thought-provoking ideas and questions among students in a fun way.

“I’d like for students to understand the science behind the way their brain is and the impact that a small decision can have on the rest of your life,” Hart said. “A small decision to drink a lot on a Tuesday night can affect a Wednesday morning test, which can affect your GPA, which can affect you getting into med school or not. And I want them to know what those specific tips that you can incorporate into your life are.”

Don’t drink? No problem. Hart makes no assumption that everyone in the audience drinks and makes her program relevant for even non-drinkers.

“It can be funny to those of you who don’t drink,” Hart explained. “I had a group come up to me afterwards the other week and they told me, ‘No, we don’t drink, but we get what you’re saying.’”

“We hope to engage with students,” Thomas said. “And we encourage and empower them to think about healthier, safer, smarter decisions.”

Hart’s presentation is a part of prevention and wellness’s Alcohol Responsibility Week. Prevention and wellness will have events going on through the whole week, with Hart’s hour-long program as a highlight.

“If you learn nothing else, remember this: your behavior is a function of the people and environment you surround yourself with,” Hart said. “But every single person will get something different out of it.”

Prevention and wellness has been hosting Alcohol Responsibility Week since 2011, but this year is the biggest with five departments and nine Greek organizations and councils acting as sponsors.

“A Few Too Many: Our Campus Culture of Alcohol” will be presented in the Cohen Center Ballroom on Oct. 21. There is a 6:30 p.m. session limited to Greeks and an 8 p.m. session for the entire campus. Alcohol Responsibility Week is Oct. 20-24 and the schedule of events can be found on the Prevention and Wellness website, www.fgcu.edu/wellness.

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