Presidents Unite to Combat Campus Alcohol Abuse

PULLMAN, Wash. — Combating alcohol abuse on college and university campuses is being targeted as a shared priority by the presidents of Washington’s public and independent institutions.
A “Commitment Statement” reaffirming the presidents’ determination to address the abuse of alcohol and other drugs by college students will be signed in ceremonies Wednesday, Oct. 28, at 10:30 a.m. in the State Reception Room of the Legislative Building in Olympia.
The ceremony will be hosted by Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, a prominent leader in the state’s efforts to fight alcohol abuse, and Western Washington University President Karen W. Morse on behalf of the Council of Presidents. The Council is comprised of presidents of the six public baccalaureate institutions, Washington State University, the University of Washington, Western, Central and Eastern Washington Universities and The Evergreen State College.
Special guest for the signing will be Dr. William DeJong, lecturer on health communication at the Harvard School of Public Health and director of the U.S. Department of Education’s Higher Education Center of Alcohol and Drug Prevention. DeJong and directors of statewide programs involved in alcohol and drug abuse prevention will join Owen, Morse and collegiate leaders in signing the agreement.
After the ceremony, DeJong will deliver a luncheon address, “Engineering a Safer Campus Environment,” at Olympia’s Indian Summer Golf and Country Club, where campus representatives will gather to discuss effective abuse prevention practices and campus-community collaborations. Co-sponsors of the daylong program are the Higher Education Center and the Washington State Substance Abuse College Task Force.
WSU Provost Gretchen M. Bataille, who will participate in the Olympia program, says recent incidents around the country and in the state clearly show why we need to change campus cultures and reduce the incidence of alcohol abuse. “By addressing the issue in a united way, with full commitment by leadership of our public and independent colleges and universities, I believe real progress can be made.”
WSU will have a major role in this effort with its pilot program, “Project Culture Change,” funded by the U.S. education department, which will test conceptual approaches for transforming student attitudes about alcohol consumption, Bataille said.