URI's Common Ground launches RhodeMap to Safety campaign
Media Contact: Jhodi
New campaign to inform students about greater law enforcement and other efforts
designed to prevent drunk driving and other alcohol-related problems
KINGSTON, R.I. -- September 14, 2005 -- URI's Common Ground, a university-based
substance abuse prevention program, announced today the start of a new media
campaign to reduce underage alcohol consumption, excessive drinking, and
alcohol-impaired driving among URI students. The campaign, called RhodeMap to
Safety, will make URI undergraduates more aware of existing URI rules, state DUI
laws, and newly increased law enforcement efforts both on campus and in nearby
"I care very deeply about this issue and the safety of our students,"
said URI President Robert L. Carothers. "We have a fundamental obligation
to ensure that students know the rules and laws that govern the use of alcohol.
I am confident that students will make safe and healthy decisions if they have
all the facts in front of them, including the greater certainty of being caught
and punished for alcohol-impaired driving."
The campaign is drawing attention to two Rhode Island laws. The first is the
state's per se law, which makes it a crime to drive with a blood alcohol level
of .08 percent or higher. The second is the state's zero tolerance law, which
makes it illegal for drivers under age 21 to drive with a blood alcohol level of
.02 percent or higher. Past student surveys have revealed that many URI students
are unaware of these laws.
Two URI rules are also being highlighted. The first is URI's parental
notification policy. For students under age 21, parents or guardians are
contacted after a second alcohol-related violation. Parents can be notified
after a first violation if it involves more than one offense or is a serious
incident. The second rule is URI�s three-strikes policy. Students who
violate URI's alcohol and other drug policies a third time face suspension for
Narragansett Chief of Police J. David Smith joined Carothers in making the
announcement about the program's efforts. URI's Common Ground, working in
conjunction with the Narragansett Youth Task Force/Narragansett SIG, has
provided $34,000 to the Narragansett Police Department to support extra police
patrols designed to combat drunken driving.
"All of us are on the same page here. Our goal is prevention through
deterrence," said Chief Smith. RhodeMap to Safety materials will notify
students that Narragansett is taking these new measures to deter illegal
underage drinking and alcohol-impaired driving.
Common Ground has also provided additional funds to URI's Police Department to
step up on-campus enforcement efforts. "No university campus should be
viewed as an enclave that protects students from the consequences of their
illegal behavior," said URI Director of Public Safety Robert F. Drapeau.
According to URI Student Senate Vice President Neil Cavanaugh, "RhodeMap to
Safety demonstrates how much URI students care for one another's health and
wellbeing by supporting tougher enforcement of policies related to alcohol
incidents." Cavanaugh referred to a recent survey conducted by Associate
Professor Mark Wood of the Psychology Department who is principal investigator
of URI's research on college drinking, that found 83.3 percent of URI students
in favor of increasing the enforcement of drinking and driving laws.
URI Student Teddy Gibbons, a member of URI's football team, also spoke in favor
of the new campaign. "Students will support the RhodeMap to Safety
campaign, because at the end of the day, all of us know that drunk driving and
other alcohol-related problems can ruin a student's life, or even end it."
The new campaign will rely on a mix of advertising, events, and other
campus-based communications to provide students this information. The campaign
hit the ground running, with a paid advertisement in The Good Five-Cent Cigar,
the URI student newspaper; public service announcements on the student radio
station WRIU-FM; posters and flyers displayed around campus; and email messages
to students from President Carothers.
Directed by URI Dean of Students Fran Cohen and Wood, Common Ground is a
five-year project funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and
Alcoholism (NIAAA) to support URI's ongoing prevention work with the Town of
Narragansett and URI's Greek community. Future activities being planned include
a Cooperating Tavern program for bars and taverns in Narragansett that abide by
principles of responsible beverage service, a companion Cooperating Package
Store program, and designated driver and other safe ride initiatives.
The University of Rhode Island is known as a leader in national efforts to
reduce underage alcohol consumption, excessive drinking, and alcohol-impaired
driving among college students. In 2002, President Carothers completed three
years of service on NIAAA's Committee on Campus Drinking, which culminated with
the publication of a research agenda for the nation. In 2004, Carothers received
a College Leadership Award from the Center for College Health and Safety to
recognize URI's "no tolerance" policy toward violence and drug and
Click here to read more about the research