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Alcohol coalition workshops off to promising start

Feb. 22 and 29, 2008, 1 to 5 p.m. Wu Dining Hall
More than 80 students, faculty, staff, alumni and community partners attended the first of three workshops on high-risk alcohol use among students on Friday, Feb. 15.

The workshops are being organized by the Princeton Alcohol Coalition that was formed in November by the Healthier Princeton Advisory Board. The group is gathering information to write a strategic plan on how to deal with the issue.

"The workshop was great!" said coalition co-chair Sanjeev Kulkarni, professor of electrical engineering and master of Butler College. "We had an engaging and informative conversation involving many constituent groups."

He noted that more than half of those attending were students. The theme for the workshop was "Reasons and Ways to Address High-Risk Drinking."

The dates and themes for the remaining workshops are:

• Feb. 22 -- "Structures That Affect High-Risk Drinking."
• Feb. 29 -- "Responsibilities Regarding High-Risk Drinking."

The workshops will run from 1 to 5 p.m. and will be followed by receptions. They will be held in the Wu Dining Hall at Butler College. Snacks will be provided.

Each workshop will feature a speaker to address the specific theme, and then include two break-out sessions to encourage small-group discussion. Groups will write their best two ideas on posters for further comment and discussion during the receptions, which are intended to continue the conversation and promote feedback. Reports will be written summarizing each workshop.

Students are strongly urged to attend, lending their voices to the conversations and to the outcomes of the strategic planning process.

"This is really an amazing opportunity for us to have a say on an issue that affects us directly," said junior Agatha Offorjebe, who co-chairs the coalition with Kulkarni. "It is important that students are active participants in these series of conversations, as what comes out of these workshops will impact how this campus addresses issues of high-risk alcohol use."

The speaker for the second workshop will be Linda Langford, associate director of the U.S. Department of Education's Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse and Violence Prevention. As part of the Campus Alcohol Prevention and Intervention project funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, she is working with several statewide campus coalitions to support the integration of violence and alcohol prevention efforts and developing a manual to promote effective uses of the mass media for prevention.

The speakers for the third workshop will be: Jeff Nunokawa, professor of English and master of Rockefeller College; and junior John Baker, a member of one of the planning groups for the workshops.

Those interested in attending should RSVP with their name, class year or affiliation, and choice of workshop(s) to acc@princeton.edu or (609) 258-5980. Undergraduates will be given seating priority, although the coalition will try to accommodate all, according to space limitations.

Made up mostly of students but also including faculty and staff, the coalition has been charged by the Healthier Princeton Advisory Board with taking a comprehensive look at issues related to high-risk alcohol use by undergraduates. The group will gather information from a variety of sources over the next few months and present a draft strategic plan at the board's May 9 meeting.

In addition to the workshops, the group has determined that the strategic plan will be informed by the work of a planning group that took place last fall; data collected about Princeton; best practices at other colleges and universities; and stakeholder meetings with campus and community partners that are taking place this spring.

More information is available on the coalition's website.

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