ATHENS, Ohio (Sept. 7, 2006) -- Ohio University student Hartley Mikus sat down with Dean of Students Terry Hogan to find out how the new strategies to reduce-high risk drinking will affect students this year.
Last spring, President McDavis announced that Ohio University would implement a strategy to reduce high-risk drinking this fall. How do you plan to execute this new strategy?
Before we talk about that, I think it is important to address why we are implementing the strategies to reduce high-risk drinking. Though most students make great choices and decisions while attending Ohio University, we are taking these new approaches because we care about students’ health and safety, their academic success and the welfare of our campus and community. The fact is that the abuse of alcohol interferes with and sometimes even derails a student’s educational experience. And, abusive drinking by one student can negatively affect many other students.
To effectively implement the strategy, the university has realized the need to clearly communicate with all students about our expectations for behavior and the consequences of misbehavior. In addition to addressing the strategies during Precollege with new students, I e-mailed all students in August.
So, what will happen this fall?
First of all, we will continue to work with student leaders on campus in all that we undertake. Their input has been essential in getting us to this point.
Broadly speaking, we’re communicating more clearly to students about what we expect of them and about the consequences of misbehavior related to alcohol; we’re expanding the activities available to students on campus; we’re improving the counseling interventions we provide to students who have an alcohol-related problem; we’ll be expanding notification of parents and the degree to which we discipline students for off-campus misbehavior; and we’ll begin handing down stiffer penalties for alcohol-related misbehavior, particularly for repeat violators.
So far, I’ve communicated the planned changes to new students at Precollege, to all students via email and the Web site, and to parents. We’ll continue to share information about what we are doing and why throughout the coming year.
What are some of those expectations for students?
First and foremost, we expect students to be responsible members of the University and Athens communities. Everything else flows from this core commitment. We will continue to provide students with the information and support they need to make wise choices, and expect that they then will accept responsibility for the decisions they make. If a student is under 21, we expect that they will abide by the law. If students are over 21 and choose to drink, we expect that they will do so responsibly.
How will campus activities be expanded?
The new Baker University Center will be very important to this effort. It will be a great place to host or attend events or just to hang out. It will be open late and be a focal point for campus life.
In addition, we’ve reworked the “Students” page on the University website to provide easier access to information about things to do, we’ve improved the Bobcat Passport program for new students, and we’re seeing departments around campus work to create new opportunities for students.
A couple of great examples are expanded intramurals on weekends from Campus Recreation, and the new GRID Lab that provides state-of-the-art gaming on Court St. There’s more to be done in this area and we’re going to rely on student leadership to continue the expansion.
In addition to improving communication and increasing activities, how will the discipline system be changed?
Most importantly, we have maintained an educational component in the judicial process. We want students to learn from their mistakes, so we will provide better, research-proven educational and counseling interventions for students who have alcohol-related problems. We have changed discipline system to be more consistent and to respond more specifically to repeat alcohol-related violations. Most students do make responsible choices, but all students need to be aware that illegal or irresponsible use of alcohol will result in university disciplinary action.
What are some specific disciplinary actions that will be taken?
Specifically, some of those actions are:
- All alcohol-related offenses of the Student Code of Conduct will now result in a $100 fine as well as a referral to an appropriate educational or counseling intervention.
- Any and all alcohol-related violations of the Student Code of Conduct will result in notification of parents (for 1st and 2nd year students under 21).
- All cases of alleged off-campus misbehavior related to alcohol will now be addressed by University Judiciaries.
- Students found responsible for an alcohol-related offense of the Code while on probation for an alcohol-related offense (even if either is minor), can expect to be suspended from the University.
Who was involved in developing the strategies to reduce high-risk drinking?
The development of this strategy included input from Ohio University students, administrators, faculty, staff and Athens community members and leaders. We also consulted with national experts and their research. The broad-based input really gave us the tools we needed to ensure our strategies are effective and meet the needs of our students and our community.
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