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Preventing student alcohol abuse


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Spring 2001

 

   
 

The recent death of 18-year-old freshman Adrian Heideman after an evening of heavy drinking at a CSU, Chico fraternity is a terrible tragedy. When I met with his parents, words literally failed me in expressing my grief and sympathy for their loss. CSU, Chico is doing everything possible to assure this is never repeated. Students, staff, and faculty have been mobilized as never before to seek solutions.

Even before the recent tragedy, CSU, Chico had intensified its efforts to prevent student alcohol abuse. Residence hall staff are trained to enforce the prohibition of alcohol in residence halls. Freshmen are instructed through an orientation class about the risks of alcohol abuse. Our Campus Alcohol and Drug Education Center (CADEC) conducts a host of other alcohol awareness programs.

Student Affairs staff work closely with sororities, fraternities, and other student organizations to encourage responsible drinking. University Police, the Chico Police Department, and campus administration continue to cooperate to provide a safe environment for students and the Chico community. A number of academic classes focus on alcohol abuse and student culture.

Although this university is already doing a good deal to discourage student alcohol abuse, we clearly must do more. Various administrators, faculty, staff, and student leaders have submitted to me recommendations on how CSU, Chico can most effectively prevent alcohol abuse among our students. While details are still being developed, the outlines of our prevention efforts are becoming clear.

Learn more about our students—We need to better understand our students—to know more about their attitudes toward alcohol and their previous patterns of use. With this in mind, we will conduct several surveys and studies to help us develop more effective policies and programs. For an explanation of the upcoming campus alcohol education campaign, see "Under the Influence."

Expand alcohol awareness efforts—We continue our commitment to provide accurate information to students about alcohol, health, and safety. We need even more effective instruction about alcohol poisoning. CADEC, the campus Wellness Center, Student Health, Student Activities, and University Housing will continue to lead the way in alcohol education.

Continue to build academic excellence—CSU, Chico has earned a reputation in recent years as an excellent regional university. This is reflected in our recent top-five ranking among Western public universities by U.S. News & World Report. Our students and faculty continue to win regional and national competitions and awards.

Yet, we need to continue to improve. We need to ask whether students, especially freshmen, are as academically challenged as they might be during the early weeks of school when college drinking habits tend to start. I have asked academic departments to develop their own approaches to strengthen our positive student culture.

Improve co-curricular environment—We are searching for ways to place greater emphasis on healthy lifestyles in our summer orientation programs. Perhaps university recognition of fraternities should require that their residences become alcohol-free. We will continue to ban alcohol advertising at athletic contests and on university bulletin boards.

We need more alcohol-free student activities on weekends. A new on-campus student recreation center is needed. We also need to expand our recreational sports programs and increase the proportion of students involved in service learning and volunteer activities.

Cooperate with the community—The university will continue to encourage positive communication among University Police, the Chico Police Department, Greek organizations, and student neighborhoods. We will continue to urge law enforcement agencies to enforce alcohol laws in student neighborhoods and among alcohol-serving businesses near the campus. We need to seek better cooperation among these businesses to assure that student drinking is moderate and responsible.

We will continue our shared efforts to build a campus culture that encourages and rewards academic engagement, intellectual excellence, and healthy lifestyles, and to make it clear that irresponsible drinking is unacceptable.

     
   



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