WSU Units Receive Award for Teleconference on Alcohol Abuse, Campus Violence

PULLMAN, Wash — Washington State University’s Conferences and Professional Programs recently received a best program award from the National University Telecommunications Network for its national teleconference on alcohol abuse and campus violence, developed and delivered from WSU.

NUTN also gave WSU’s Extended Degree Programs a second award for outstanding innovation in distance education for an on-line student government Web site. Both awards were announced at the NUTN annual conference in Toronto the week of June 26.

CAPPS, with the college cf agriculture and home economics’ information department, produced the Nov. 13, 1998, two-hour teleconference in response to a street-party-turned-riot on the Pullman campus May 1998. The altercation, involving alcohol abuse, caused numerous injuries and damage to property. Arrests were made, offenders prosecuted and other disciplinary actions taken. Disturbances occurred at several other universities roughly the same time.

The teleconference was organized to raise awareness, provide information and research on causes, and offer solutions to prevent future outbreaks of violence on college campuses, according to CAPPS director John Thielbahr.

“The longer-term damage to the reputation of the school, and the impact on enrollment, fund-raising and legislative support, required swift action by administrators and student leaders,” he said. “When other schools experienced similar violence, it was clear that a pattern was developing, and there was a clear need to share information and solutions to a broad audience, quickly and efficiently.”

WSU collaborated with the National Association for Student Personnel Administrators on the teleconference, delivered from Pullman to 115 downlink sites representing colleges, universities, social service agencies and the National Collegiate Athletic Association, in 41 states and one Canadian province. With an average of 30 viewers at each site, an estimated 3,450 attended the teleconference.

Teleconference panelists included then WSU President Sam Smith; Richard Keeling of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, a national expert on student drinking; Alan Lizotte from the State University of New York at Albany, a nationally recognized sociologist involved in campus crime research; and Ron Stump of the University of Colorado and Karen Pennington of Montclair State University, two student affairs administrators experienced in handling campus violence. Other panelists were Joe Pelle of Boulder, Colo., a police commander with extensive experience in handling and preventing campus violence, and two student leaders from WSU and the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

More than 70 site administrators rated the teleconference highly, Thielbahr said, and the panelists received 44 calls and faxes during the program.

“We did not have time to answer them all, but it was clear that the program stimulated lots of interesting dialogue,” he added. “Scott Fedale, chair of CAHE’s information department, and his staff did a masterful job of producing and moderating the teleconference from WSU, overcoming significant technical challenges of two origination sites and numerous phone and fax lines.

“The model used for this teleconference is clearly replicable and transferable to other topics, including a follow-up to this teleconference, with a focus on law enforcement because of the many law enforcement officials who viewed the program,” Thielbahr said.