October 3, 2002

Council on Alcohol, Drugs Looks At Last Year's Prevention Methods

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The President’s Council on Alcohol and Other Drugs, appointed by President Hunter R. Rawlings III last year, met yesterday to address efforts aimed at reducing substance abuse on campus.

The meeting, which was closed to the public, covered a wide range of topics, including Slope Day and alcohol awareness.

The council — composed of staff, faculty, students and alumni — consists of six committees, including the Educational Strategies Committee and the Slope Day Steering Committee.

“It is our goal to improve the overall campus environment by addressing the problems that cause substance abuse,” said Susan Murphy ’73, vice president of student and academic services.

During the meeting, the council reviewed data from Slope Day 2002.

“The hard alcohol ban was somewhat effective, in that there was less hard alcohol and more beer but it was not 100 percent effective,” Murphy said.

The Council also noted the identical decline in both attendance on the Slope due to cold weather and in the number of students treated for alcohol-related problems. Both of these statistics declined 43 percent from 2001.

The University-sponsored activities during Slope Day have become more numerous and diverse, a change attributed to the Slope Day Planning Committee’s suggestions to increase the celebratory nature of the event, according to Murphy.

“The tenor and tone of Slope Day continues to improve,” Murphy said. “The music returned to the slope but we didn’t accomplish the great feast that we had planned.”

Originally, the University planned to hold a massive, “feast” on Slope Day but the plans were unsuccessful, Murphy said.

Council members also discussed the new policy of giving amnesty to students treated for alcohol abuse. According to the council’s findings, students have already benefited from the new amnesty policy, but the policy has not been used often.

Amnesty applies only to the use of alcohol but not to other controlled substances.

“There seems to be an awareness on the behalf of some of the students that [the amnesty policy] exists and that’s a good thing,” Murphy said.

Many students agree that the amnesty policy demonstrates the University’s concern for their health.

“I think it’s wonderful,” Jenny Rothchild ’04, a resident assistant, said. “I think the key concern of the policy should be the students’ health and no one should be afraid to go and find help.”

While part of the meeting dealt with policy enacted in the past, the council also discussed future plans, including recommendations made by the Educational Strategies Committee.

This committee emphasized the importance of integrating alcohol education messages with the academic arena.

The faculty members on the committee plan to collect information from the entire University’s faculty on how this integration is already being implemented, according to Murphy.

Some students have taken issue with this proposal.

“I think that students at this age are aware of the risks of drinking,” Ben Tishman ’05 said. “While they don’t always make the best decisions, I don’t think that taking time out of the class to discuss it will make a difference.”

Other recommendations from the Educational Strategies Committee included a discussion on the importance of broadcasting consistent messages and on the necessity of educating students about the consequences of alcohol abuse.

The council also discussed the formation of a Community Campus Relations Committee. While the charge, or specifically stated purpose, for the committee has yet to be written, the goal would be to examine ways that the campus and community — especially the Collegetown community — can work together to reduce the effects of extensive partying.

“I think that what’s been happening earlier this year with the mayor is a perfect example of the type of problems this committee would address,” Murphy said, referring to Ithaca Mayor Alan Cohen ’81 ordering a zero tolerance policy on illegal conduct earlier this semester.

Though the council addresses both alcohol and other drugs, the majority of the council’s actions have currently focused on alcohol.

“Most of the attention has been on alcohol because that’s clearly the drug of choice here,” Murphy said.


Archived article by David Hillis