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May 2008

Alcohol Coalition Committee Strategic Plan


Alcohol Coalition Committee Members

Co-chairs
Sanjeev Kulkarni, Professor of Electrical Engineering, Master of Butler College
Agatha Offorjebe ’09

Undergraduate Students
Chloe Angyal ’09
John Baker ’09
Alex Cantwell ’11*
Chris Chandler ’10
Elizabeth Dilday ’09
Laurie Frey ’09
Esther Lee ’08
Agatha Offorjebe ’09
Will Scharf ’08*
Elizabet Sucuyan ’09*

Graduate Students
Kellam Conover, Classics, Resident Graduate Student at Butler College
Tanya DeMello, Woodrow Wilson School, Resident Graduate Student at Wilson College

Faculty
Sanjeev Kulkarni, Professor of Electrical Engineering, Master of Butler College
Joshua Rabinowitz, Assistant Professor of Chemistry and the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics

Staff
Gina Abrams, Director, Health Promotion and Wellness Services, University Health Services
Amy Campbell, Special Assistant, Office of the Vice President for Campus Life
Janet Finnie ’84, Interim Director, University Health Services
Steven Healy, Director, Department of Public Safety
Hilary Herbold, Associate Dean, Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students
Julie Shackford, Head Women’s Soccer Coach, Department of Athletics

Support Staff
Matthew Kinsey ’98, Analyst, Office of the Executive Vice President
Ruth Stevens, Executive Editor, Office of Communications
Karen Woodbridge, Director of Community Relations, Office of Community and Regional Affairs

* unable to participate throughout the process

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Executive Summary

High-risk drinking at colleges and universities, including Princeton University, is an important and complex issue. In the fall of 2007, the Healthier Princeton Advisory Board appointed a “Core Group” of students, faculty, and staff to frame the scope of the issue of alcohol on campus. In December of 2007, the advisory board created the Alcohol Coalition Committee (ACC) comprising students, faculty, and staff that was charged with producing a strategic plan to address high-risk drinking among undergraduates to present to the Healthier Princeton Advisory Board at its meeting on May 9, 2008.

The ACC’s work was informed by: the 2007 Core Group report; best practices from other institutions; Princeton-specific data and context; three themed workshops; and meetings with more than 30 stakeholder groups. These efforts led to an operational definition of high-risk drinking, as: Any time the health, well-being, or safety of the individual drinking or others is compromised or when community standards are compromised. The aim of the ACC was to address high-risk drinking from a strategic, versus tactical, standpoint. Hence, the committee refrained from recommending a specific list of initiatives, and instead came up with the following three broad recommendations to provide vision and direction for ongoing efforts.

Sustainability: The primary recommendation of the ACC is to create a mechanism to sustain efforts to address the culture of high-risk drinking. The mechanism proposed includes a standing body analogous to the current ACC together with ad hoc working groups created to study and propose details on specific initiatives.

Strategic Areas: The ACC recommends further review of specific ideas and initiatives to implement in the following five strategic areas: education; policies, procedures, and discipline; activities, programs, and events; structures and environment; and communication and partnerships.

Data: The ACC recommends consideration of data acquisition, management, use, and dissemination.

The work of the committee has already led to several successes. It has already had an impact on the culture of the processes used to address high-risk drinking at Princeton. A hallmark of the approach taken was the open and transparent dialogue among students, faculty, staff, and community partners. This led to broad awareness, conversations, and engagement, resulting in the generation of many innovative ideas and suggestions. This also developed a sense of ownership for the issue of high-risk drinking and support for sustaining an effort moving forward. Prior to completion of this report and to demonstrate the new approach, the committee launched three initiatives: consideration of a party registration system, a re-evaluation of Princeton’s alcohol education during new student orientation, and enhancement of the senior exit survey to assess the impact of alcohol use on the Princeton experience.

The Alcohol Coalition Committee hopes that the successes achieved to date and the sustained efforts proposed in the strategic plan will have a significant impact in addressing the complex issue of high-risk drinking at Princeton.

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1. Introduction

High-risk drinking at colleges and universities, including Princeton University, is an important and complex issue. Most institutions of higher education are engaged in efforts to address this issue. Specific efforts vary widely, but recent trends have been to consider comprehensive approaches that broadly address the campus and community environment. Like other schools, Princeton is concerned about the welfare of its students and throughout the past several decades has continued to think about and address the issue of high-risk drinking.

1.1 Background and Charge of the ACC

In 2004 the University created the Task Force on Health and Well-Being which tackled many issues affecting the health and well-being of students, faculty, and staff. Its work took on other major initiatives, while tabling the issue of high-risk drinking. In the fall of 2007, the Healthier Princeton Advisory Board appointed a “Core Group” of students, faculty, and staff to frame the scope of the issue of alcohol on campus for a subsequent committee to prepare a strategic plan for moving forward in dealing with this issue. As recommended by the Core Group, in December 2007 the advisory board created the Alcohol Coalition Committee (ACC) comprising students, faculty, and staff, many of whom had served on the Core Group. Although there was no single incident that compelled the formation of the ACC, there was a strong sense that high-risk drinking was increasing, and Princeton, like so many schools across the country, was continuing to seek answers on how best to address the issue. The ACC was charged with producing a strategic plan to address high-risk drinking among undergraduates to present to the Healthier Princeton Advisory Board at its meeting on May 9, 2008. This report is the culmination of those efforts.

The ACC’s work was informed by: the 2007 Core Group report; best practices from other institutions; Princeton-specific data and context; three themed workshops; and meetings with more than 30 stakeholder groups. The workshops and stakeholder groups included participation from students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community partners.

The essential result of the Core Group report identified high-risk drinking among undergraduates as the central issue on which the ACC should focus. Significant effort was made to review best practices from peer institutions. These efforts provided insight into how other institutions have tried to address this problem and a sense of the national trends. While the undergraduate culture often embraces a social scene that includes alcohol, high-risk drinking is on the rise. There are no magic bullets: Many schools have created plans, developed programs, provided treatment and counseling, and instituted robust alcohol and drug offices charged with monitoring and addressing the issue.

1.2 Unique Aspects of Princeton

High-risk drinking is a complex issue — one often informed by the institution’s culture, its location, its tradition around alcohol use, and by state law. The unique nature of Princeton inspired the ACC to consider the problem in detail within the Princeton context. This included considering Princeton-specific data as well as some of the defining aspects of Princeton’s culture and environment.

Princeton is a demanding school, both academically and socially. Students feel especially high pressure to succeed, whether in the classroom or in a social affiliation, and this pressure is frequently linked to high-risk drinking. The academic and the social are inextricably intertwined, as evidenced by the common student mantra, “Work hard, play hard.” Precisely because students invest themselves so much in their studies, they admit to having relatively little time to socialize. Frequently, as a result, they seek to make that social time — and their consumption of alcohol — all the more intense.

Princeton’s unique social scene, with a strong emphasis on social affiliations and the prominence of the eating clubs as a social venue, also contributes to high-risk drinking. Students regularly report consuming alcohol because of strong pressures to succeed socially. Consequently, one widespread phenomenon on campus — pregaming — entails consuming relatively large amounts of alcohol within a short period of time prior to going out.

Princeton is also unique compared to our Ivy peers. The undergraduate experience is framed by the two- and four-year colleges, which provide a rigorous intellectual environment and a broad array of social, religious, athletic, service, student organization, and affiliation opportunities. We have a fully residential campus that has a historic and storied relationship with eating clubs, which offer both dining and social opportunities for their members and guests. Students rarely go off campus to drink, rarely drive cars, and usually rely on the campus and eating club infrastructure for social activities. Both high-risk and socially responsible drinking primarily take place on campus and in the eating clubs.

The ACC has been consistently conscious of these Princeton-specific factors influencing alcohol consumption. Addressing these factors will entail a broader cultural shift in alcohol consumption, and the ultimate goal of efforts to be pursued as a result of this strategic plan is to effect this shift away from high-risk drinking.

1.3 Process and Recommendations

In addition to being cognizant of the unique aspects of Princeton, the ACC felt that one of the biggest hurdles was to galvanize the various constituents of the University community and to generate broad support for the conversation and ongoing efforts to address this issue. This led the ACC to adopt a process designed to achieve these aims. In particular, the ACC held three themed workshops and met with more than 30 stakeholder groups involving students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community partners. The workshops and stakeholder meetings created awareness of the problem, generated engagement, and resulted in informative dialogue and valuable insights.

As part of its work and results, the ACC chose to define high-risk drinking in an operational way as: Any time the health, well-being or safety of the student engaged in drinking or others is compromised or where community standards are compromised. This definition allowed the discussion to move past the number of drinks consumed over some specified period of time, and to focus instead on the consequences of high-risk drinking. This, in turn, permitted the conversation to focus on how high-risk drinking may have wide implications for both the individual and the community.

The efforts of the ACC also led to a wide range of ideas, some short term and some long term, some requiring minimal resources and some requiring extensive resources, and some very concrete and some less well-defined. To address the complex issue of high-risk drinking, the ACC recognized the importance of a sustained effort which is broad and strategic, inclusive of constituents across the University, and informed by data. The aim of the ACC was to address high-risk drinking from a strategic, versus tactical, standpoint. Hence, this report refrains from recommending a specific list of initiatives, and instead proposes three broad recommendations to provide vision and direction to guide ongoing efforts. The three recommendations cross institutional boundaries and propose a model for sustainability that endorses University-wide participation.

The following are the primary recommendations of the ACC:

Sustainability: The primary recommendation of the ACC is to create a mechanism to sustain efforts to address the culture of high-risk drinking. The mechanism proposed includes a standing body analogous to the current ACC together with ad hoc working groups created to study and propose details on specific initiatives. The intent of the standing body, comprising students, faculty, and staff, is to coordinate all efforts to address high-risk drinking across the University. The working groups, also comprising students, faculty, and staff, will study in detail implementation of specific initiatives in order to inform the department or office that would ultimately be responsible for the particular initiative.

Strategic Areas: From the broad range of ideas generated and discussed throughout the work of the ACC, several strategic areas emerged as having significant potential impact on the culture of high-risk drinking. The areas identified are: education; policies, procedures, and discipline; activities, programs, and events; structures and environment; and communication and partnerships. The ACC recommends further review of specific ideas and initiatives to implement in each of these five areas using the above mechanism for sustainability. A number of concrete ideas fall in each of these areas, some of which are briefly described in the report, in certain cases with general guidelines. However, the specific initiatives included are not meant as recommendations, but rather as some possible directions for further consideration.

Data: Data on various aspects of high-risk drinking are important for a number of reasons, including delineating the scope and nature of the issue; creating awareness and engagement; providing direction for decision-making and initiatives; and assessing and quantifying progress through concrete metrics. Data acquisition, management, use, and dissemination are areas we recommend for further consideration.

1.4 Successes to Date

In addition to this report, the work of the committee over the past four months has already led to several successes. First and foremost, the work of the committee has already had an impact on the culture of the processes used to address high-risk drinking at Princeton. A hallmark of the ACC’s approach was the open and transparent dialogue among students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community partners. This led not only to broad awareness across the University community about high-risk drinking, but also to conversations and engagement by a wide range of constituents, resulting in the generation of many innovative ideas and suggestions. This approach developed a sense of ownership for the issue of high-risk drinking and support for sustaining an effort moving forward. Prior to the completion of this report and in order to demonstrate the new approach, the committee launched three initiatives: consideration of a party registration system, a re-evaluation of Princeton’s alcohol education course during new student orientation, and enhancement of the senior exit survey to assess the impact of alcohol use on the Princeton experience.

1.5 Organization of this Report

The remainder of this strategic plan is organized as follows. Section 2 describes past initiatives the University has undertaken to address high-risk drinking over the last several decades. Section 3 discusses the organization and process used by the ACC. Section 4 presents in detail the ACC recommendations on sustainability, strategic areas, and data. Section 5 summarizes some successes to date.

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2. History

Like most other colleges and universities, the culture of alcohol use by Princeton undergraduates has a long and storied history. Over the past several decades, the University has identified people, designated resources, created task forces, and launched trustee initiatives to address the culture of high-risk drinking on campus. Some have continued, others morphed into multiple initiatives and still others "ran their course.”

The University hired its first alcohol counselor/educator in the fall of 1987. In 1991, this position was assumed under the Alcohol and Other Drug Team, within the counseling service. The team, which continues today, includes health service providers from counseling and psychological services; health promotion; sexual harassment/assault advising, resources, and education (SHARE); and medical services. It provides a comprehensive approach to treating students with alcohol and other drug issues. Also in 1991, President Harold T. Shapiro established a senior administrative position responsible for addressing campus alcohol issues. Initial efforts by this person — quickly named the “alcohol czar” by students — to enhance relationships with students, increase the hours of Dillon Gymnasium, and open communication among students about alcohol were well received. Both positions were of short duration as their functions quickly folded into roles in other offices.

In 1993, the Graduate InterClub Council (GICC) hired a recent graduate as the InterClub Adviser working closely with the GICC. The University, in an effort to support this new role, provided office space and modest benefits. This position continues today and is a critical link between the GICC, InterClub Council (ICC), and the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students.

In addition to identifying people to address high-risk drinking, some of the policy and administrative steps the University has taken include:

  • 1991 Kegs banned in dorms
  • 1998 Substance-free upperclass housing made available
  • 1999 Wristband-based system instituted at Reunions by Alumni Council
  • 1999 Nude Olympics banned
  • 1999 Trustee Alcohol Initiative launched to address alcohol abuse
  • 1999 Regular updates provided to Student Life, Health, and Athletics Trustee Committee
  • 2000 Frist Campus Center opened
  • 2001 Alcohol coalition of University and community partners sponsored by vice president for campus life
  • 2001 Stricter alcohol-related disciplinary sanctions implemented (“three strikes policy”)
  • 2003 Report submitted to trustees updating them on Trustee Alcohol Initiative
  • 2003 Substance-free housing made available in Rockefeller
  • 2004 Substance-free housing made available in all residential colleges
  • 2004 Task Force on Health and Well-Being Task Force Report completed
  • 2005 Eating club best practices handbook completed
  • 2005 Clubs and public safety tasked by University to work closely together during bicker and pick-ups
  • 2007 Report submitted to trustees updating them on Trustee Alcohol Initiative
  • 2007 Core Group assigned by Healthier Princeton Advisory Board to address high-risk drinking among undergraduates
  • 2007 Alcohol Coalition Committee appointed by Healthier Princeton Advisory Board

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3. Organization, Scope, and Efforts of the ACC

3.1 ACC Membership

In December 2007, the Alcohol Coalition Committee was formed, naming Sanjeev Kulkarni, professor of electrical engineering and master of Butler College, and Agatha Offorjebe ’09 as co-chairs. Amy Campbell, special assistant to the vice president for campus life, was appointed project manager, and Matthew Kinsey, analyst in the Office of the Executive Vice President, joined as part of the core planning team. Most members of the “Core Group” from fall 2007 remained with the committee, providing good continuity and expertise. Essential to the success of the newly formed coalition was increased student membership. A strong effort was made to reach out to students through articles on the University website, e-mails to all students from the Undergraduate Student Government and Undergraduate Life Committee, and conversations with residential college staff members. The committee also invited an additional staff member and a graduate student.

The final membership of the Alcohol Coalition Committee included two faculty members, ten undergraduate students, two graduate students, and seven staff members. In addition to the committee, several key offices provided support and were important contributors to the work of the ACC. Notably, Matt Kinsey, Office of the Executive Vice President, played an integral role in the work of the ACC in all respects. Ruth Stevens, Office of Communications, and Karen Woodbridge, Office of Community and Regional Affairs, sat with and made integral contributions to the work of the ACC. Kristin Appelget, Office of Community and Regional Affairs, was instrumental in coordinating interactions with the Princeton Borough and Township. Erin Metro, Office of Community and Regional Affairs, and Nancy Forman, Office of the Vice President for Campus Life, provided administrative support. Maggie Westergaard, Office of Communications, provided design support. Donna Pilenza, Dining Services, and Betty Stein, Butler College, provided support in workshop logistics. In early January, the members of the Alcohol Coalition Committee, along with the supporting staff, began their work to create a strategic plan addressing high-risk drinking among undergraduates, culminating with a presentation to the Healthier Princeton Advisory Board on May 9, 2008.

Co-chairs
Sanjeev Kulkarni, Professor of Electrical Engineering, Master of Butler College
Agatha Offorjebe ’09

Undergraduate Students
Chloe Angyal ’09
John Baker ’09
Alex Cantwell ’11*
Chris Chandler ’10
Elizabeth Dilday ’09
Laurie Frey ’09
Esther Lee ’08
Agatha Offorjebe ’09
Will Scharf ’08*
Elizabet Sucuyan ’09*

Graduate Students
Kellam Conover, Classics, Resident Graduate Student at Butler College
Tanya DeMello, Woodrow Wilson School, Resident Graduate Student at Wilson College

Faculty
Sanjeev Kulkarni, Professor of Electrical Engineering, Master of Butler College
Joshua Rabinowitz, Assistant Professor of Chemistry and the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics

Staff
Gina Abrams, Director, Health Promotion and Wellness Services, University Health Services
Amy Campbell, Special Assistant, Office of the Vice President for Campus Life
Janet Finnie ’84, Interim Director, University Health Services
Steven Healy, Director, Department of Public Safety
Hilary Herbold, Associate Dean, Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students
Julie Shackford, Head Women’s Soccer Coach, Department of Athletics

The Committee met each Friday starting in early January through May 9, 2008. Because of scheduling conflicts, a few students (*) were unable to continue with the committee throughout the spring.

3.2 ACC Efforts

3.2.1 The Core Group Report

The “Core Group” report (see page 4) was presented to the Healthier Princeton Advisory Board in mid-November and outlined a series of goals and recommendations for the formation of the Alcohol Coalition Committee.

The Alcohol Coalition Committee framing statement. The “Core Group” supports the development of an alcohol coalition that will: proactively address high-risk alcohol use among undergraduate students, as a health and well-being issue and demonstrate Princeton University’s strong commitment to addressing high-risk alcohol use.

The Core Group recommended forming a coalition of students, faculty, and staff to:

  • Promote a culture in which undergraduate students who choose to drink alcohol do so responsibly in a safe social environment and make decisions about their use of alcohol, free from unhealthy peer influence.
  • Promote the development of and encourage students to participate in social activities that are not centered around high-risk drinking.
  • Encourage students to develop healthy behaviors with respect to alcohol that will continue beyond their years at Princeton University.
  • Support policies and processes that hold individuals and student groups accountable for their actions with respect to alcohol use and that address problematic alcohol use consistently and effectively.
  • Foster a culture in which students treat both their academic and social lives with a high level of maturity, reflecting high community standards.

3.2.2 Princeton Data and Context

The committee took a special look at Princeton’s data on high-risk drinking to understand what they say about high-risk drinking, trends at Princeton and to assist in identifying some questions about what data should be collected and how the data might be managed including: what could be shared more widely; and how Princeton-specific data might help inform practices, policies, and procedures addressing high-risk drinking.

3.2.3 Best Practices

The ACC conducted a review of national and institutional best practices regarding high-risk drinking on college campuses. The review included the current literature, numerous existing campus documents, and interviews with 31 college and university representatives, including our Ivy League peers, New Jersey schools, and some of the colleges referenced in the national studies. This research informed the committee about approaches to address high-risk drinking.

The following is a sampling of studies reviewed:

  • Wasting the Best and the Brightest: Substance Abuse at America’s Colleges and Universities; March 2007; National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.
  • Experiences in Effective Prevention: The U.S. Department of Education’s Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention Models on College Campuses Grants; August 2007.
  • A Call to Action: Changing the Culture of Drinking at U.S. Colleges; April 2002; Task Force of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
  • How to Reduce High-Risk College Drinking: Use Proven Strategies, Fill Research Gaps; Final Report of the Panel on Prevention and Treatment; April 2002; NIAAA; Task Force on College Drinking.
  • What Colleges Need to Know Now: An Update on College Drinking Research, November 2007; NIAAA updated report on the findings in A Call to Action.
  • A Matter of Degree: The National Effort to Reduce High-Risk Drinking Among College Students—Advocacy Initiative; October 2003.
  • Proposed Guiding Principles Regarding Alcohol Education, Policy, and Enforcement, COFHE (Consortium on Financing Higher Education)
  • Colleges Respond to Student Binge Drinking: Reducing Student Demand or Limiting Access; 2004.

Efforts to reduce high-risk drinking on college campuses have historically focused on three areas: (1) changing students’ knowledge, attitudes, and behavior regarding substance use; (2) protecting students from short-term consequences; and (3) intervening and treating students with substance use problems. Current best practices suggest that focusing on the campus and community environment coupled with a comprehensive strategy also may have an impact in addressing high-risk drinking.

Princeton is not an outlier. The issue of high-risk drinking is one that every school in the country is dealing with and trying to address. Some common themes emerged:

  • Changing the prevailing climate and creating a healthy environment.
  • Changing students attitudes and expectations through education.
  • Engaging parents.
  • Reducing availability of alcohol.
  • Identifying students at high risk.
  • Targeting high-risk times and events.
  • Providing services for students.
  • Treating students who are abusive drinkers.
  • Promoting healthy behaviors.
  • Creating college and community partnerships.

According to a 2004 Harvard School of Public Health study of 747 four-year colleges nationwide, all schools were taking some action to manage student drinking. The administrators surveyed reported using the following prevention measures:

  • Banning alcohol on campus — a minority of colleges, 34 percent, have banned alcohol on campus for any student, regardless of age.
  • Banning alcohol in residence halls — 43 percent of all schools prohibited alcohol in all campus residence halls. (This includes schools that are alcohol free.) A total of 81 percent of colleges offered at least some alcohol-free dorms or floors.
  • Restricting alcohol at events — 44 percent of all colleges restricted alcohol use in at least some situations.
  • Providing alcohol education — 84 percent of schools provided alcohol education for freshmen, 72 percent for fraternity and sorority members, and 69 percent for athletes.
  • Conducting social norms marketing campaigns — 49 percent of the colleges reported using this method to educate and motivate students. These campaigns aim to reduce student demand for alcohol by correcting misperceptions about the drinking behavior of their peers.
  • Managing of substance abuse among students — 90 percent of campuses offer some form of counseling and treatment for students who abuse alcohol.
  • Campus-wide coordination — 81 percent of colleges employ an assigned substance abuse official, and 61 percent have a task force to deal with substance abuse issues. 48 percent of schools have a cooperative agreement with community agencies to deal with alcohol abuse.

Several factors are common to all colleges and universities:

  • This is a problem that impacts all aspects of the campus community.
  • The issue is ongoing because of the nature of undergraduate student bodies.
  • A comprehensive environmental approach is the most effective way to address high-risk drinking.
  • Student engagement is critical to any shift in student culture.

3.2.4 Stakeholder Meetings

A primary goal of the ACC was to engage the campus community, particularly students, in the conversation about high-risk drinking. The ACC leadership team met with more than 30 groups, including student organizations or groups, administrative offices, partners in the community, the Graduate InterClub Council, the Council of the Princeton University Community (CPUC), and the Student Life, Health, and Athletics Trustee Committee.

The conversations were critical to informing the campus community about the ACC, introducing and inviting participation in the workshops. Following the workshops, the ACC leadership returned to a number of the key stakeholder groups seeking their feedback on the progress to date and the strategic areas that emerged from the workshops.

3.2.5 Themed Workshops

The central component of the ACC was hosting three themed workshops:

  • Reasons and Ways to Address High-Risk Drinking
  • Structures That Affect High-Risk Drinking
  • Responsibilities Regarding High-Risk Drinking

Each workshop executive team included additional faculty, staff, and students not on the Alcohol Coalition Committee. The teams were co-chaired by a student and staff ACC member. The executive teams were charged with: identifying a speaker who would open the workshop and frame the topic; creating a series of 8 to 12 questions and topics that small groups would discuss; moderating the discussions; and writing a report summarizing the ideas, themes, and suggestions that emerged from the table discussions.

The general theme of the workshops, “Be a Part of the Conversation, Be a Part of the Solution” was advertised through dining hall table tents, posters, Facebook, Daily Princetonian articles, posts on the University website, and postcard invitations sent to each member of the University community. At the workshops, each participant received a T-shirt, an information packet explaining the workshop process, and table topics.

Executive summaries of each workshop are available at www.princeton.edu/acc

Feb. 15, 2008
Reasons and Ways to Address High-Risk Drinking ~90 participants
Co-chairs Gina Abrams and Elizabeth Dilday

Michael Lemonick, a journalist specializing in science and medical writing who also is a lecturer in astrophysics at Princeton, framed the charge of the ACC and why it is important to address the issue of high-risk drinking. Participants moved to various tables, each with its own topic, and discussed the questions posed by the executive team. The workshop format included two breakout sessions. After about 45 minutes, participants were able to change tables and begin discussing a new topic. At the end of the breakout session, each person was asked to identify one or two ideas they felt most compelling. Concluding the workshop was a reception, casual conversation, and an opportunity for participants to lodge their support for some of the ideas that arose from each breakout group.

Feb. 22, 2008
Structures That Affect High-Risk Drinking ~110 participants
Co-chairs Steven Healy and Laurie Frey

The workshop executive team invited Linda Langford to present the opening remarks. Ms. Langford is associate director of the U.S. Department of Education's Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse and Violence Prevention. While on campus, she met with student groups and several administrative offices discussing the work of the center and perspectives on campus initiatives across the country. The executive team designed the table topics, moderated the conversation, and provided summaries of the conversation, suggestions, and ideas.

Feb. 29, 2008
Responsibilities Regarding to High-Risk Drinking ~125 participants
Co-chairs Hilary Herbold and Chloe Angyal

John Baker ’09 and English professor Jeff Nunokowa, master of Rockefeller College, gave the opening remarks at the final workshop. John, a student in recovery, talked bluntly about his Princeton experience. Professor Nunokowa was more philosophical, framing the issue of high-risk drinking around the full range of student experiences and suggesting students engage fully in all that Princeton offers its undergraduates. The workshop executive team identified the table topics, moderated the discussion, and summarized the ideas and suggestions that emerged from the conversation in an executive report.

3.3 Outreach Efforts

Working with the Office of Communications, a communications plan was created that included periodic articles on the University website, updates in the Princeton Weekly Bulletin, a dedicated website (www.princeton.edu/acc), postcards sent to all students, faculty, and staff announcing the workshops, table tents for dining venues, a series of posters, ads in The Daily Princetonian, posting on the University calendar and The Point, and workshop T-shirts. The coalition also created a dedicated voice-mailbox and an e-mail address (acc@princeton.edu), providing easy ways to contact members of the ACC.

The student members of the ACC were instrumental in promoting the workshops through Facebook ads, op-ed pieces in The Daily Princetonian, e-mails to friends, and other student communication outlets.

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4. ACC Recommendations

4.1 Sustainability

4.1.1 Overview and Scope

Even prior to the release of the strategic plan, the ACC already jump-started the long-term process to address high-risk drinking on campus. In particular, the February workshops and the meetings with stakeholder groups engaged a broad range of community members in fruitful dialogue. The committee views these efforts as only the beginning of the conversation, however; continued engagement with and by the community will be vital for the long-term success of the strategic plan.

As the ACC looks forward to implementation in the future, therefore, it also aims to sustain four broad trends characteristic of its recent efforts: engagement, transparency, partnerships, and feedback. Over the course of the past semester, the committee has striven to make its process as transparent as possible. Additionally, through its broad outreach efforts, the committee has developed working partnerships with a number of stakeholder groups. Establishing transparency and forging partnerships have not only fostered strong, two-way communication between the committee and community as a whole—they also have promoted a sense of ownership of the process among the various constituents. As a result, the ACC has enjoyed a high level of University, community, and especially student involvement, and this involvement has translated into valuable feedback and support from the community throughout the process.

The ACC believes that these four core ideas—engagement, transparency, partnerships, and feedback—will be integral for effective ongoing efforts to address high-risk drinking. Accordingly, the committee recommends a two-tiered institutional structure for executing the strategic plan: an institutional body, similar to the make-up of the current Alcohol Coalition Committee, for overseeing the coordination and oversight of these initiatives; and a series of smaller working groups, each chaired by a specific stakeholder group, in order to tackle discrete recommendations. The following are initial recommendations that should be adjusted as experience is gained and as the process moves forward.

4.1.2 Ongoing Structure of the ACC

In order to implement and oversee the development of the recommendations of the strategic plan, the committee strongly endorses that some institutional body, similar to the make-up of the current committee, continue. The ACC recommends that this ongoing body be made up of about 20 to 25 members. The following are some suggestions of possible staff for inclusion on the ongoing body:

3 representatives from the residential colleges (1 dean, 1 director of student life, 1 director of studies)

1 representative from the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students

2 representatives from University Health Services

1 representative from the Department of Athletics

1 representative from the Office of the Vice President for Campus Life

1 representative from the Department of Public Safety

2 faculty members (including a residential college master)

2 graduate students (including a resident graduate student)

12 undergraduate students

The committee recommends that the undergraduate students on the ongoing body include broad representation of classes and affiliations of the student body. In order to provide room for flexibility and while fulfilling various needs, the committee suggests that selection of student membership may include some combination of the following: application, specific request of co-chairs or ongoing body, nomination by particular offices or groups, and standing positions in student groups. For continuity in the staff positions, the committee recommends that the length of terms vary and/or stagger so that some members are returning each year. For the student positions, the committee envisions one-year terms with a possibility of reappointment. The ACC also discussed the possibility of having student membership terms run from February to February, versus the academic year, but left this open to be determined as the process moves forward.

Reflecting both the broad range of University involvement and, crucially, the engagement of students in the work of the current committee, the ongoing body will consist of students, faculty, and staff, with students making up about half of the total membership. A student will co-chair the committee with a member of the staff.

4.1.3 Structure and Composition of the Working Groups

In order to complement the ongoing Alcohol Coalition Committee, the current ACC recommends that a series of smaller working groups be established to address the specific initiatives as they arise. For each initiative, an ad hoc working group will be convened chaired by a member of the office that naturally will “own” or will implement the initiative. The working group should also include representation from various relevant stakeholder groups, including borough and township representatives as appropriate, and should also include a good mix of students, faculty, and staff as appropriate. Although the precise make-up of each group will be the determined with input from the chair of the working group and the ongoing ACC, it is recommended that, in keeping with the spirit of the envisioned process, students constitute about half of each working group. The charge of each working group will be focused and designed to tackle a discrete, well-articulated goal; in the process of considering one initiative, however, the working group may need to consider impact on a number of related issues.

4.1.4 Functionality of ACC and Working Groups

It is hoped that the composition and efforts of the ongoing Alcohol Coalition Committee and its off-shoot working groups will ensure engagement and transparency while maintaining partnerships and soliciting feedback from the community. A significant part of the ongoing committee’s charge will be to communicate its progress and direction to the community at large. These efforts are important not only for demonstrating that progress is being made, but also for ensuring that the process used to achieve such progress is as transparent as possible. It is also important that the ACC facilitate the integration of initiatives and working groups so that the work is all part of a comprehensive strategic effort to address high-risk drinking.

Part of the rationale behind creating both an ongoing committee and various working groups drawn from as wide a range of community representatives as possible is to facilitate the flow of information from the committee back to various constituent groups on campus. It is hoped, therefore, that various stakeholder groups will be updated naturally by their representatives on the working groups or the ongoing ACC. Any stakeholder groups not directly represented on the ongoing body and/or the working group will need to be updated directly by the ongoing committee or working group. In addition, other means for engagement, update, and feedback may include open forums, web posts, and workshops.

These updates will serve a variety of purposes, including strengthening partnerships across the University community, maintaining awareness and engagement, and providing opportunities for feedback, all of which will be integral for the ongoing committee’s continued work. Thus, representatives on the ongoing committee and on the working groups are, in effect, ambassadors engaged in dialogue among their constituents, the committee and/or working group, and the broader University community.

4.1.5 Reporting Structure

During its proceedings, the committee has enjoyed continued involvement and support at the highest level of the University, without which the ACC might never have achieved its charge. For the continued success of these efforts, it is imperative that the ongoing ACC maintain this considerable effectiveness within the University. The committee recommends that the ongoing Alcohol Coalition report directly to the vice president for campus life. Moreover, given that it originally was conducted under the auspices of the Healthier Princeton Advisory Board, the committee recommends that the ongoing Alcohol Coalition update the Healthier Princeton Advisory Board as appropriate at that group’s meetings. In addition periodic updates, as appropriate, to the Student Life, Health, and Athletics Committee of the trustees and the CPUC also are recommended.

4.1.6 Resources

One crucial component necessary for ongoing efforts is funding. The committee envisions three broad categories of funding needs: annual operating budget for the ongoing Alcohol Coalition and working groups; small projects; and large/capital projects. It is expected that funding for large/capital projects will proceed through the normal University process and channels for such projects. Funding for small projects is expected to come from the appropriate department(s) or office(s) associated with the particular initiative. The committee recommends that the ongoing Alcohol Coalition have an annual operating budget. This budget would cover, among other things, expenses such as food for regular meetings, receptions/workshops for engaging the community, communication efforts, website or brochure design and production, and possibly some temporary administrative support for projects such as running a workshop.

Whatever resources the ongoing Alcohol Coalition may have, the committee recommends that there be a discussion to coordinate the various existing sources of funding for social events. In addition, it is recommended that efforts continue to make sure that available sources of funding are clear to students interested in planning a new event or initiative.

The issue of external funding is something that may be worth considering for discussion by the ongoing Alcohol Coalition. Certain new initiatives may be suitable for external funding sources, and these should be pursued as appropriate.

4.2 Strategic Areas

From the broad range of ideas generated and discussed throughout the work of the ACC, several strategic areas emerged as having significant potential impact on the culture of high-risk drinking. The areas identified are:

  • Education
  • Policies, procedures, and discipline
  • Activities, programs, and events
  • Structures and environment
  • Communication and partnerships

The ACC recommends further review of specific ideas and initiatives to implement in each of these five areas using the mechanism for sustainability discussed in this plan. The University already has many efforts to address high-risk drinking under way, but ideas in these five strategic areas were viewed as ways to have significant potential impact. There is some overlap among the strategic areas, and a number of initiatives fall under multiple areas. Some concrete ideas in each of the five areas are briefly described below, in some cases with general guidelines. However, the specific initiatives included are not necessarily meant as recommendations, but rather as possible directions for further consideration. Moreover, other ideas may emerge as the ongoing body continues its work.

4.2.1 Education

Overview and Scope

Educational components designed for both individual students and groups are integral to a comprehensive approach to address high-risk drinking. Alcohol education for college students typically includes a range of knowledge, as well as attitude and behavioral interventions.

Although providing information alone (e.g., providing facts about alcohol and problems related to high-risk use) is only one part in helping students make better informed decisions about drinking, it is an important part that can have a significant positive impact. Moreover, by creating partnerships across the University (including relationships between first-year and upperclass students), education strategies can be designed to have increased effectiveness.

The following are several ideas that emerged for further consideration.

Addressing Expectations, Motivations, and Misperceptions

Expectations about the effects of alcohol, motivations for drinking, and misperceptions about beliefs and attitudes regarding normal, acceptable, or expected behavior all play a role in high-risk drinking. Surveys conducted at Princeton as well as feedback from the ACC workshops indicate that students are motivated to drink for various reasons, including social camaraderie, mood enhancement, coping, stress relief, and social or sexual lubrication. Additionally, campus surveys conducted over the past ten years have shown that Princeton students consistently overestimate the drinking norms on campus. Some specific strategies to address alcohol expectations, motivations, and misperceptions of social norms may include:

  • Design an interactive skills-based workshop and include information about drinking motives and social norms as they relate to the unique Princeton culture.
  • Design media campaigns to correct negative misperceptions and inform the majority that their behavior is actually more normal and healthy than they think.
  • Create further peer mentorship opportunities that model and promote healthy, protective behaviors.
  • Address social norms to avoid granting heavy drinkers social status and recognition.
  • Encourage conversation about and adherence to community standards, with possible consideration of a social honor code.

Freshman Orientation

Our work suggests that some education strategies should be targeted specifically to freshman, who may be more susceptible to high-risk drinking, especially during the first few weeks after arriving on campus. Some specific strategies for freshman orientation may include:

  • Coordinate a comprehensive, intentional approach to alcohol education during freshman orientation; reduce duplication and eliminate ineffective strategies.
  • Maintain a pre-matriculation strategy of providing fundamental alcohol information to freshmen before they arrive on campus
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of AlcoholEdu for College, the online initiative that currently is part of Princeton’s alcohol education program.
  • Inform freshmen and their parents about alcohol policies and procedures before arrival and during orientation periods.
  • Supplement current alcohol education efforts with information specific to Princeton. For example, design an interactive skills-based workshop, include information about drinking motives and social norms, teach social skills to help freshmen manage social anxiety, help freshmen socialize effectively, and engage upper-class students in leading freshman alcohol education initiatives.

Education Strategies Beyond Freshman Year

After the freshman year, it may be helpful to create a sustained alcohol education program for students covering all four years at Princeton. Some specific strategies for continued alcohol education may include:

  • Provide education opportunities during key times during the academic year that may affect high-risk drinking (e.g., eating club bicker, houseparties, end of midterms, reading period, dean’s date, end of finals period, etc).
  • Engage student leaders such as eating club officers, team captains, and student government officers.
  • Foster student conversations as they relate to personal and community responsibility and maintain strong communication and awareness strategies.

Increase Peer Mentoring and Advising Opportunities

Workshop participants expressed that students can have significant impact in affecting positive social norms, and that involvement of student leaders can help in this regard. Some specific strategies to increase peer mentoring may include:

  • Leverage the four-year residential college system to provide the structure for these mentoring relationships.
  • If students choose to drink, encourage older students to model safe and moderate behavior.
  • Recruit student leaders to educate freshmen about healthy values with regard to alcohol.

Early Intervention

There area a variety of early intervention tools and programs that may be a helpful complement to a strong education program. Such programs might screen students for high-risk behaviors and then offer individual sessions in which students are provided feedback about their drinking behavior and given the opportunity to negotiate a plan for change. Some specific intervention strategies may include:

  • Use of early intervention for students who may be at greater risk for high-risk drinking and its consequences.
  • Review web-based screening and early intervention tools.

Develop Communication and Awareness Initiatives

Communication and awareness initiatives can be an important component in a comprehensive approach to addressing high-risk drinking on campus. Some specific strategies related to communication and awareness may include:

  • Design and implement initiatives for addressing pregaming and other high-risk drinking behaviors.
  • Develop communication and awareness initiatives that complement education programs.
  • Capitalize on partnerships across campus organizations and constituents.

4.2.2 Policies, Procedures, and Discipline

Overview and Scope

The University’s policies and procedures regarding alcohol use clearly affect high-risk drinking because they influence decisions students make about and consequences resulting from whether, when, how much, and under what circumstances they drink. For example, the alcohol policy that is articulated in Rights, Rules, Responsibilities informs students of who may serve alcohol, to whom, and under what conditions.

In particular, this area includes the following: alcohol-related disciplinary policy; the party registration policy; responses by residential college advisers and public safety officers to alcohol-related situations; and alcohol-related transports to University Health Services (UHS) and the University Medical Center at Princeton (UMCP). More broadly, however, issues of policies, procedures, and discipline cannot be considered in a vacuum. To be meaningful and effective, they should reflect shared basic principles regarding responsibility and governance on campus and, to the extent possible, reflect broad and dynamic involvement from all campus constituencies, especially students.

The following are several ideas that emerged for further consideration.

Disciplinary Policies Regarding Alcohol

A topic that came up a number of times in the workshops and stakeholder meetings was to review the University’s disciplinary policies regarding alcohol. Some specific areas for consideration include:

  • Promote clarity of policies.
  • Make stronger distinctions between higher-risk and lower-risk violations, e.g., by considering tiered disciplinary penalties or reconsidering the current “three strikes” policy.
  • Create educational opportunities within the disciplinary process.
  • Consider opportunities for students to play a role in shaping and implementing aspects of the disciplinary process.
  • Review and benchmark disciplinary systems both within and outside of the Ivy Plus and COFHE group.
  • Examine parental notification policies.

Party Registration

The idea of a party registration system—where of-age students can get permission from the administration to host parties with alcohol in their rooms—was the focus of much discussion and support at all three workshops. One important aspect that emerged was to consider a system that allowed mixed-age parties where of-age students can register and host but under-age students can attend. When properly planned and hosted, mixed-age parties offer a situation that many see as crucial to improving campus alcohol culture, but which our campus lacks. Further, “legal” mixed-age gatherings provide an opportunity to establish consensus and trust between administrators and students about the use and consumption of alcohol. For these reasons, a party registration process that also enables the University to meet its legal and ethical obligation to protect student safety should be seriously considered.

Although some preliminary work toward a party registration system had begun before the ACC’s deliberations, the ACC acknowledges that an operational system may benefit from broad input including students. The ACC has already begun to work with the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students, the natural owner of this initiative, to assemble a working group to consider party registration. The hope is that this will be a near-term effort, with the working group beginning its work in September 2008 and instituting a party registration system in the 2008-09 academic year.

Pregaming

Pregaming emerged as an issue for consideration that is important and contributes significantly to high-risk drinking. Some specific issues regarding pregaming for consideration include:

  • How residential college advisers and public safety officers can best respond.
  • How to address the belief that the most dangerous drinking occurs not at large, loud gatherings, but in smaller, quieter, “pregaming” contexts.
  • How to involve and benefit from involvement by health educators and clinicians, eating club members and officers, fellow students, and administrators who adjudicate disciplinary cases and manage crisis-related situations.
  • How best to utilize multiple approaches and interventions.

Hard Alcohol and Kegs

Two inter-related topics that came up on a number of occasions are consideration of policies regarding hard alcohol and kegs on campus. The University currently has no policy regarding hard alcohol but has a ban on kegs in the residence halls. Some issues for consideration include:

  • Whether to ban hard alcohol.
  • Whether to remove the ban on kegs.
  • The expected effect of any policy changes in this regard.
  • Consideration of enforcement of policies.
  • Inter-relationships among hard alcohol and keg policies with other alcohol-related policies such as a party registration system, disciplinary penalties, etc.

Alcohol-Related Transports to UHS and UMCP

The issue of alcohol-related transports to UHS and UMCP arose in a variety contexts. Some issues to consider include:

  • Increased awareness and compliance with the “Good Samaritan” and “amnesty” policies.
  • Awareness of public safety policies and procedures involving transported students.
  • Relationships among concerned offices including public safety, UHS, borough police, Princeton fire and rescue, and UMCP.
  • Consideration of a campus first aid squad.

4.2.3 Activities, Programs, and Events

Overview and Scope

One theme that emerged numerous times from students at the workshops and stakeholder meetings was the connection between how they experience the stress of a rigorous academic and intellectual campus and the opportunities available to counter the intensity of their lives. Students expressed the value of programs that help them cope with the pressures often associated with high-risk drinking and the importance of information about the risks and dangers of participating in such activities. In addition, students frequently are placed in leadership roles that provide good opportunities to mentor younger students about the rigors of college life.

The following are several ideas that emerged for further consideration.

Activities, Events, and Mentoring

Student involvement in program organization, whether in leadership roles or in simple participation, often contribute to the success of activities and events on campus. Peer mentoring has benefits for both first-year students and upperclass students. Some examples of enhancing activities and on-campus events to address high-risk drinking include:

  • Consider a coordinated pre-orientation and orientation program on high-risk drinking similar to the well received “Sex on a Saturday Night” program.
  • Review the “Alcohol Initiative” name and funding level.
  • Consider increasing late night programming on Thursday and Saturday evenings that will be attractive to students and possibly serve as an alternative to dorm and club drinking.
  • Investigate opportunities for the residential colleges, campus recreation and the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students to work more closely together and continue to help student leaders develop programs and events.
  • Consider opportunities for residential colleges to host special events that include alcohol for of-age students.
  • Consider enhancing club, intramural, instructional, and recreation opportunities and spaces across campus, including Dillon Gym.
  • Consider hosting events such as concerts with “A list” artists to provide an attractive alternative to going to the clubs or drinking in dorm rooms.
  • Review opportunities to work with residential colleges and student leaders to enhance mentoring programs between upper-class and first-year students.
  • Find opportunities to inform student leaders, who are valuable resources in combating high-risk drinking, of the dangers of high-risk drinking.
  • Encourage additional student leadership opportunities similar to the advisory and program boards of Campus Club.

4.2.4 Structures and the Environment

Overview and Scope

“Structures and environment” refers to the physical, social, and administrative structures that make up our campus community. It includes relationships to non-University entities, such as the borough and the township, that shape and influence our environment. This area also includes, among other things, the following entities and their relationship to high-risk drinking among undergraduates: a campus pub, Princeton Borough and Princeton Township, the eating clubs, residential colleges, student affiliations, the academic calendar, and Campus Club.

The following are several ideas that emerged for further consideration.

Campus Pub

There was strong support for establishing a campus pub where faculty, staff, and of-age students could enjoy moderate and responsible social drinking, possibly in the company of underage students who are not served alcohol. There was a strong consensus that a campus pub would be a positive influence on the campus environment by creating a venue where members of the campus community could meet socially. Important stakeholders to involve in the discussion would include the Office of the Vice President for Campus Life, Office of the Executive Vice President, Dining Services, Facilities, Office of Community and Regional Affairs, Princeton Borough, the Alcohol and Beverages Commission, General Counsel, and Department of Public Safety, as well as students, faculty, and staff.

Improving Relationship With Princeton Borough

One area that came up often was the benefits that could be obtained from generating strong and positive relationships with Princeton Borough. External pressures create tension between responding to drinking as a legal issue, on the one hand, and dealing with it as a health concern on the other—approaches that are difficult to balance when any instance of underage drinking involves a potential violation of the law. There was discussion about whether “cracking down” may deter students from seeking medical help for intoxicated students. One suggestion to promote positive relations was to establish a permanent liaison to work closely with the Borough Council and police, with the goal of strengthening communication, identifying shared objectives, and resolving conflict. Further effort may be helpful to consider how to effectively develop a strong relationship.

Eating Clubs

There was significant discussion about the eating clubs, their role in high-risk drinking, initiatives they might implement, and relationships with the University. While the eating clubs and their student and graduate board leaders have made some changes to address the consequences of high-risk drinking, directions that emerged for further consideration include:

  • Wristbanding to deter underage drinking in the clubs.
  • Alcohol first aid training.
  • Non-student bouncers.
  • How the University might benefit from stronger partnership with the eating clubs.
  • To help address pregaming, have the clubs offer some programming, such as alcohol-free events, intended specifically to combat the impression that alcohol is a prerequisite to socializing in the clubs.
  • Engage eating club members and officers in freshman alcohol education, since many freshmen regard them as social role models.
  • Promote stronger relationships among the clubs, the University, and Princeton Borough, given their common interest in improving that relationship.

Residential Colleges

There was significant discussion about the residential colleges and high-risk drinking. Some directions that emerged for further consideration include:

  • How to address pregaming that occurs in the residential colleges before students head out to the eating clubs.
  • Ways to build more positive relationships between students and the Department of Public Safety to minimize the negative consequences of enforcement in the residential colleges.
  • Having events with alcohol for of-age students in the colleges.
  • The role of residential college advisers and others in the residential colleges in mentoring and education.

Student Affiliations

There was much discussion about student affiliations, whether formally recognized or not, and their role in culture of high-risk drinking. These include eating clubs, sports teams, fraternities and sororities, and other student activities, clubs, and groups (e.g., religious, performance, academic, civic engagement). While some discussants argued that certain student affiliations can reduce the risks of high-risk drinking because some group members can create positive role models for others and look after one another, in some cases student affiliations (e.g., fraternities and sororities) promote and play a significant role in the general culture of high-risk drinking. Some specific directions for further considerations include:

  • How to encourage social and other groups to help foster an ethos that discourages high-risk drinking in addition to reducing its ill effects.
  • How to foster affiliations of various kinds among students that expand positive/protective factors.
  • Examine the impact of fraternities and sororities on the culture of high-risk drinking.

Academic Calendar

There was much discussion about features of the academic calendar, scheduling, and certain key time periods throughout the year that may play a role in high-risk drinking. Some specific areas that emerged for further consideration because of their perceived role in high-risk drinking include:

  • The fall semester reading period and exams in January.
  • The lack of many classes on Friday, resulting in heightened stress and high-risk drinking on Thursday nights.
  • A long orientation week in which upper-class students as well as freshmen are on campus.
  • A long reading period and its impact on high-risk drinking

Campus Club

In the fall of 2008, the University will re-open Campus Club, which was donated to the University by the eating club to serve as a social gathering place for Princeton students. The club will be a space for all students, undergraduate and graduate, to plan informal and formal programs and events as well as a place to “hang out.” Campus Club will have the same look and feel of an eating club, but will be governed by a student advisory board, run by a student program board and have the support of a director working closely with students. The club will provide another option supporting student social life. Some specific areas that emerged for further consideration:

  • How to foster partnerships across other campus activity programmers including the residential colleges, Frist Campus Center, and campus recreation.
  • How to foster a strong relationship with the eating clubs
  • How to encourage students to use the club as an informal space as well as for specific programs and events.

4.2.5 Communication and Partnerships

Overview and Scope

Communication and partnerships were identified as important areas that can have an impact on high-risk drinking. Communication was seen as the way information about alcohol consumption, policies, and penalties is given and received. It refers to the way in which students learn the culture of their community and the way they understand the policies and penalties of high-risk drinking. Also included are relationships with and among stakeholders, especially those in the community. Partnerships refer to the many relationships both on and off campus that either impact, are affected by high-risk drinking, or that work toward a solution when there is a problem.

It is important to recognize that there are already some good examples of communication and partnerships. Some of the programs under recreational sports and Outdoor Action were discussed as excellent ways to communicate and have groups work together. There also has been progress in developing good relationships and communication with the Eating Clubs and Princeton Borough. Stakeholders both on campus and off should work together to address concerns.

The following are several ideas that emerged for further consideration.

Communication

Communication was seen as key to the way students are informed about high-risk drinking. In many instances the perceived lack of concise, readily available information on policy and penalties coupled with poor communication were seen as contributing to the problem on campus. There were many references to the “myths” surrounding high-risk drinking and the need to be transparent and to “demystify” the policies, procedures, and penalties. When thinking of communications, it is important to consider “Who is the audience?” more carefully and to target information to various groups. Audiences might range from students in general to more specific targeted groups such as freshmen, upperclassmen, or graduate students, to affiliate groups such as the eating clubs, athletic teams, faith-based organizations, or those involved in community service or civic engagement, to even parents or local members of the community. The following are some ideas for specific initiatives that emerged for further consideration:

  • Create a new alcohol brochure and website that clearly articulates policies, procedures, and penalties.
  • Communicate strategies to demystify and dispel myths about the policies, procedures, and penalties regarding alcohol, especially about what happens at University Health Services (UHS), if public safety is involved and if there are sanctions and penalties from the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students (ODUS).
  • Clarify who does what in areas including prevention, education, and enforcement—public safety, UHS, clubs, residential colleges, and/or college staff and residential college advisers (RCAs).
  • Clarify policies and procedures governing students in need of medical assistance including when transported to University Health Services or to the University Medical Center at Princeton.
  • Create a continued education/communications program including a sustained program covering all four years at Princeton.
  • Consider new or different alcohol education and programming during orientation, possibly in smaller groups with their RCA or director of student life.
  • Engage upperclass students, especially campus leaders in various capacities to either give presentations or lead discussions at orientation at other events for students.
  • Continue conversations as they relate to personal and community responsibility.
  • Hold open forums, workshops, and possibly events with alcohol for of-age students to continue conversations about high-risk drinking.

Partnerships

Discussions regarding partnerships centered on building stronger relationships and coordinating programming and education. There was a sense that these partners or stakeholders can work together to promote education and awareness and to help change the culture and reduce the incidence of high-risk drinking. Some specific ideas that emerged for consideration include:

  • Build more positive relationships between public safety and the students.
  • Promote greater coordination on programming and education among colleges, centers, teams, organizations, ODUS, UHS, and public safety.
  • Continue to build stronger ties between the University and the eating clubs.
  • Continue to build strong relationships between the University and the Princeton community.
  • Continue discussions on high-risk drinking with the Borough Council and Township Committee and local police, the University Medical Center at Princeton, the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad, Corner House, Hi-Tops, the Princeton Alcohol and Drug Alliance, and other interested groups in the community.
  • Continue to build and improve dealings between the eating clubs and the local community and police.
  • Share information about policies, penalties, and practices with stakeholders as appropriate so they can better aid in addressing high-risk drinking.

4.3 Data Collection, Management, and Dissemination

4.3.1 Overview and Scope

Data collection, management, and dissemination are critical to addressing high-risk drinking for a number of reasons, including: delineating the scope and nature of the issue; creating awareness and engagement; providing direction for decision-making and initiatives; and assessing and quantifying progress through concrete metrics. Discussion related to data may revolve around four primary areas: demonstrating the existence of a problem; identifying goals and metrics; forming data-driven strategies to address high-risk drinking; and evaluating success of the strategies. The following are several ideas that emerged for further consideration.

4.3.2 Demonstrating the Existence of a Problem

There are some students, and perhaps some faculty, staff, and alumni, who may think that it is rare that high-risk drinking leads to potentially dangerous consequences. A common explanation is students are just “having a good time” and drinking is a part of the college experience. In the absence of sharable data, the only reference points are personal experience and anecdotes from friends.

In order to demonstrate that high-risk drinking exists and is a problem, some specific strategies may include:

  • Review and identify Princeton-specific data that may be shared and used as an educational tool for more clearly defining the consequences of high-risk drinking.
  • Consider the campus cultural implications of an activity that is described as part of the college experience and one that puts students’ health and well-being in possible jeopardy.
  • Consider reviewing recommendations regarding who would benefit from having access to data, what kind of data should be shared, and possibly when data should be shared.

4.3.3 Identifying Goals and Metrics

Identifying goals and metrics to guide future efforts to address high-risk drinking may help to inform other aspects of the ACC. Some specific strategies for identifying goals and metrics may include:

  • Establish goals and metrics, related to reducing high-risk drinking, as initial components of the working groups. Measure these periodically and use them as a means of demonstrating success as initiatives are implemented.
  • Review metrics that may help to guide working groups and demonstrate achievement.

4.3.4 Forming Data-Driven Strategies

Strategic recommendations are made stronger when they rely on data. As a part of the work of the ACC, Princeton-specific data was presented that included the prevalence of alcohol use and high-risk drinking on campus, the impact of high-risk drinking, and additional relevant data points. Data is one of the five primary areas informing the development of the strategic plan.

Accordingly, it is recommended that the ACC going forward:

  • Consider the benefit and use of existing data regarding alcohol use at Princeton and nationally.
  • Review opportunities to share relevant data with working groups.

4.3.5 Evaluating Success

Nationally, colleges and universities devote considerable resources to analyzing various aspects of the undergraduate experience. This kind of inquiry would be very beneficial when appraising the effect of a strategic plan addressing high-risk drinking. High-risk drinking is a complex problem and having tools to better inform conversations and discuss successes to date may be beneficial.

Knowing there is no “magic bullet” to addressing high-risk drinking, we recommend the areas of data acquisition, management, use, and dissemination for further consideration.

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5. Successes to Date

In addition to this plan and recommendations, the work of the committee over the past several months has already led to several concrete successes to date. Among the successes are:

Creation of conversation, awareness, and engagement. The goal of the more than 30 stakeholder meeting and the workshops was to inform the community of the work of the ACC, create engagement in the process, and generate ideas and feedback. The ACC was highly successful in these respects. The efforts of the ACC led not only to broader awareness across the University community about high-risk drinking, but also to conversations and engagement by a wide range of constituents, resulting in the generation of many innovative ideas and suggestions. This developed a sense of ownership for the issue of high-risk drinking and support for sustaining an effort moving forward.

Impact on the process. The ACC believes that in addition to creating awareness and engagement, an important step toward addressing high-risk drinking is the impact our work has already had on the process used to address this issue. The hallmark of the ACC’s approach was the open and transparent dialogue among students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the broader community. Having conversations in such an open and transparent way involving so many people helped generate a multitude of ideas; more importantly, it began to create partnerships within the University community as well as a sense of ownership and investment regarding the issue of high-risk drinking.

Launch of initiatives. Prior to the completion of this strategic plan and in order to demonstrate its new approach, the committee launched three initiatives: consideration of a party registration system, a re-evaluation of Princeton’s alcohol education course during new student orientation, and enhancement of the senior exit survey to assess the impact of alcohol use on the Princeton experience. Working groups for the first two initiatives are already in the process of being formed. The enhancements to the senior exit survey have been put in place and will be administered to the Class of 2008.

The Alcohol Coalition Committee hopes that the successes achieved to date and the sustained efforts proposed in the strategic plan will have a significant impact in addressing the complex issue of high-risk drinking at Princeton.

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