The Colorado State University Alcohol Task Force, led by Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, today presented 43 recommendations in its final report to President Larry Edward Penley.
"We have offered Dr. Penley, the university and the Fort Collins community realistic and effective recommendations to address the problem of alcohol abuse," said Norton. "We believe that these recommendations will be effective for Colorado State University and for campuses throughout the nation."
"The Alcohol Task Force has done an extraordinary job in tackling these issues directly and providing recommendations that can and will make a difference," said Penley. "Despite all that our campus and others have done in the past, there is more we must do – and Colorado State will be a leader in driving that change. Our process must be one of both immediate action and ongoing commitment if it is to be effective."
Penley pledged to take direct action on three recommendations the task force identified as items that could be implemented immediately. These actions include the following:
– Colorado State will expand its intervention programs to reach a greater number of students confronting issues related to alcohol, using the university’s nationally recognized and highly successful Drugs, Alcohol and You – or DAY programs – as a basis from which to grow. Colorado State will expand these programs to enhance outreach and effectiveness within the campus community, creating a comprehensive program to address prevention, education, intervention and treatment across the continuum of alcohol and drug use among students.
– Colorado State will implement a mandatory transition program for students moving off campus and into community housing. This program will focus on the role, responsibilities and legal obligations students assume when they move out on their own, usually for the first time.
– Colorado State will take responsibility to initiate a national dialogue and share learned information with other campuses and communities. In particular, the university is committed to assisting other institutions in studying and adopting programs similar to the DAY intervention programs, as well as sharing Alcohol Task Force findings with university presidents nationwide in the hopes that what was learned will benefit others.
Additionally, Penley announced, relative to another task force recommendation, the university will commit $100,000 in privately raised funds, to be administered by the Sam Spady Foundation, in support of research and education programs at Colorado State associated specifically with alcohol poisoning and under-age drinking. Penley said this action provides both an opportunity to honor the memory, families and friends of all those students lost nationally to alcohol poisoning, as well as to build on an area of emerging academic and research strength at Colorado State.
"It is a reflection of our shared conviction that change is not only possible, but necessary, if we are to protect the welfare of our young people and prevent further tragedies such as those we experienced this fall – at Colorado State and on other campuses across the country," Penley said. "All of the recommendations in this report provide a valuable starting point for what I expect to be an ongoing and serious discussion on our campus, in this community and across the nation."
Penley also announced he will appoint a Presidential Committee on Accountability, which will include students, parents, community members and faculty, to monitor Colorado State’s ongoing commitment to following through on the work of the task force.
"Colorado State University is poised to be a national leader – an example – of how to begin changing a culture and creating a healthier, safer and more responsible environment for young people to study, learn and thrive," Norton said.
Penley also stated that many of the other recommendations within the report will require further evaluation of resources and behavioral implications before Colorado State will be prepared to make a decision on how to proceed. He stated that recommendations associated with alcohol poisoning and its prevention are especially important to implement. However, their implementation will require new approaches to addressing behavioral change among young people and significant additional revenue will be necessary for research and training.
Penley will take a set of recommendations, most notably those involving Hughes Stadium and including those related to Fort Collins neighborhoods and the university’s Greek system, to the Board of Governors of the Colorado State University System meeting February 9 to gain advice and counsel before determining a final course of action. He also plans to discuss with the Board how to move quickly to integrate the work of the task force throughout the Colorado State System, not just on the Fort Collins campus.
Penley appointed the Alcohol Task Force, led by Norton, to examine a wide range of issues including binge drinking and underage drinking among students, as well as the fraternity and sorority systems and the overall culture of the institution as it relates to alcohol and substance abuse issues.
Linda Kuk, vice president for student affairs and dean of admissions, and Cheryl Olson, a local community leader, served as operational co-chairs of the task force. Additional task force membership includes state and community leaders, students, faculty, staff, and substance and alcohol abuse experts.
The full Alcohol Task Force report is accessible for review and download on the Web at www.president.colostate.edu/alcohol_task_force. The site also includes the charge of the task force and each subcommittee, and lists meeting times, agendas, minutes and additional background information.