Clemson University Feature Stories

We Empower: Reflecting Clemson’s values with every decision

Haley Sulka
Creative Services, Class of 2013

While on television and in the movies college is portrayed as a place where everyone goes wild with partying and drinking, Clemson University is working hard to banish that stereotype. Clemson has experienced several tragedies of student deaths because of alcohol, and the University is striving to eliminate these tragedies and spread awareness about the dangers of excessive drinking.

Many groups on campus are forming in order to teach students about alternatives to drinking and safety measures to take if students do participate in consuming alcohol.

“These initiatives are about inspiring us to make good decisions, follow laws and policies, and if you choose to drink, do so in a way to reduce risks,” said EMpower Director Kathy Cauthen.

TAAP (Teaching Alcohol Abuse Prevention) is a large group on campus that teaches a mandatory session for all incoming freshmen and transfer students about the “ins and outs” of alcohol and how to be smart and aware of its consequences.

Student TAAP member Ben Levy found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time a few years ago. After getting an MIP (Minor in Possesion) at an apartment party, he joined TAAP and uses his incident to teach others to know their options and help them prevent what happened to him.

Cauthen and her student interns are determined to change the atmosphere of drinking at Clemson. She believes that the youth on campus can help out the most because they are in the middle of it all, which is why she puts students in charge to make the change and lower the rates of overconsumption of alcohol.

There are several ways all students can get involved in the cause. It is important for everyone to be responsible for each other and to make sure everyone has a “Think Ahead card.” These cards are great because they have taxicab and police numbers, CAT Bus route schedules and designated driver information on them; and they are as small as a credit card so they easily fit into a wallet.

Another TAAP member Stefan Friend uses his stories as an example to help people avoid making the same mistakes that he did coming into college. He found himself in multiple situations during his first couple years in college where his excessive drinking had extreme consequences. He learned his lesson after receiving multiple tickets and spending thousands of dollars on lawyers.

“If you can learn to have a good time without alcohol, you really should,” he said.

The ultimate goal of the alcohol safety movements on campus is to urge students to think about every decision they make and whether it will honor our principles of honesty, integrity and respect.

“If I drink myself into oblivion, then maybe I don’t really respect my body. If I promote others drinking a lot or I don’t have the opportunity to get into a safe ride home, then where have we failed?” Cauthen said. These thoughts are the reasons Cauthen, other staff members, faculty and students are developing alternatives to drinking and promoting safety in drinking.

Cauthen reminds students, “It is OK to have a few beers if you are of age, but it is important to regard ourselves and this institution in such high value that we do it in a way that promotes a sense of fun and family.”

Clemson University is an institution of high class, and it is our responsibility as students not to taint that reputation because of any lifestyle choices we make. Students of Clemson are tasteful, so the way we handle alcohol should be done in a responsible and mature manner.

If you have any suggestions or concerns, email EMpower Clemson at For event updates, like them on Facebook!