The CSU Receives $2 Million to Combat Student Alcohol Abuse

(May 16, 2002) In recognition of the initial work the California State University has done in the area of student alcohol abuse, the system is receiving nearly $2 million in grants from state agencies to further curb abuse on its campuses.

The CSU, the nation's largest university system, will use the funds for training, education, enforcement and prevention programs at its 23 campuses.

"Student alcohol abuse is a problem at universities of all sizes and in all communities. We cannot sit back and say alcohol is just a part of college life," said CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed. "Our universities, our communities and our state must work together to attack this problem with intensity and commitment."

The CSU and the state's Business, Transportation and Housing Agency signed a partnership agreement in February to address the difficult issue of student drinking both on and off campuses. That agreement committed the CSU and multiple state departments, including Alcoholic Beverage Control, Alcohol and Drug Programs, and the Office of Traffic Safety, to collect data, work cooperatively and develop collaborative programs. It also encouraged submitting joint grant proposals, which has now led to the initial awarding of funds for the CSU campuses.

The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) is anticipating receiving on July 1 a $360,000 grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), in the U.S. Department of Justice, to increase enforcement of underage drinking laws. The ABC will,in turn, administer this grant in partnership with the CSU system on eight campuses. The grant will be used to conduct environmental scans to gauge the extent of student drinking; develop community-campus coalitions; increase enforcement of laws and policies; identify factors that contribute to underage drinking on and around campuses; and to reduce sales of alcoholic beverages to minors.

Also on July 1, the ABC is anticipating awarding $100,000 grants to local law enforcement agencies throughout the state. This year, these grants will be used for joint efforts with their respective CSU campus enforcement partners to reduce access to alcohol by minors and reduce the number of police calls. Last year, a successful pilot program was conducted with campus and local law enforcement agencies in the Chico and San Diego areas. That program will be expanded this year to encompass additional campus communities, with an announcement expected shortly.

On October 1, the ABC will be receiving another $360,000 grant from the Office of Traffic Safety for enforcement related activities in support of the CSU partnership. This grant will be used for training campus police and local law enforcement on environmental management strategies; increasing ID checks on campuses; conducting specialized operations on and around campuses; and working with merchants in the community to reduce the problems associated with binge drinking and alcohol abuse.

Also on October 1, CSU will be awarded nearly $770,000 from the Office of Traffic Safety for its "Sober Driver Initiative," which was developed by CSU Fresno. The goal of the initiative is to reduce alcohol abuse and impaired driving by CSU students through a combination of social norms campaigns and peer education programs. Social norms campaigns utilize a variety of strategies to correct misperceptions of students about how much other students actually drink. Peer education uses the power of peer (student) influence in the areas of advising, counseling and educating other students.

A key component of the grant is to partner with "feeder" high schools in each university area. Research has shown that drinking patterns established in high school can be a major factor in college drinking patterns. By working with the area high schools, CSU hopes to cut down on the numbers of students driving under the influence of alcohol.

Chancellor Reed formed a CSU systemwide committee in December 2000 to deal with student alcohol abuse after a student died at one campus and two other students suffered severe alcohol poisoning at a different campus. That committee developed a policy approved by the Board of Trustees in July 2001 that created alcohol advisory councils on all campuses, mandated a review of campus policies and called for an annual CSU conference, which was held in April. Chancellor Reed provided $1.1 million to the campuses to be matched by their funds for the policy's implementation.

The policy developed by the committee, which was chaired by CSU Fresno President John Welty, is believed to be the first university system policy in the country. CSU has received national attention for it, and President Welty testified this week in Washington, D.C. before Sen. Joseph Lieberman's Committee on Governmental Affairs at a hearing on "Under the Influence: The Binge Drinking Epidemic on College Campuses." See www.senate.gov/~gov_affairs/hearings.htm for Sen. Lieberman's statement and President Welty's testimony.

"Our overall goal is to provide a safe learning environment for our students and to encourage responsible student behavior," Welty said. "Our efforts can make a difference if we have the support of the entire university and our communities, and if we sustain our efforts. This is too important an issue not to take it seriously."

In a related announcement, CSU Bakersfield is receiving a $1,000 award from the Automobile Club of Southern California and the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention for its 2001- 2002 alcohol awareness program. "Oksoberfest" was chosen as one of the best alcohol prevention campaigns in the western region.

Last October, in conjunction with the National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week, the campus sponsored Oksoberfest. Activities included a barbecue and rally, speakers on alcohol awareness, simulated drunk driving tests and non-alcoholic smoothies. Students, faculty and staff worked together to provide information and statistics about alcohol abuse, responsible drinking options, and demonstrated non-alcoholic options for having fun.

Contact: Colleen Bentley-Adler, (562) 951-4801, cbentley-adler@calstate.edu

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Last Updated: 16 May 2002

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