Program aims to reduce alcohol abuse on campus

By Liz Wrobel
Published: Friday, September 30, 2005

09/30/05 - The University of Rhode Island is helping students deal with alcohol and drug abuse through a program called Substance Abuse Prevention Services.

SAPS, is designed to counsel students who may have a problem and offer them advice on how to solve it.

"It's not developed to be punishment, its developed more as an educational piece, so we really don't have anything to do with the judicial process," Dan Graney, the director of SAPS, said.

The former director, Dan Reilly, left the university this summer, and Graney replaced him in July.

"Its been going very well so far. The thing we've been working on primarily over the summer was getting the AlcoholEdu set up for incoming freshmen during URI 101," Graney said.

In addition to serving students who want to come in and talk voluntarily, there is also a portion of SAPS that helps students who have committed two offenses involving alcohol.

"We provide what's called JADE, Judicial Alcohol and Drug Education," Graney said. "So if someone is found responsible for a second offense, then they get the fine and they have to come meet with either me or one of my staff,".

The students who participate in JADE go through a two-hour session that provides the student with education about alcohol and alcoholism, and a self-evaluation of the student's choices.

"You learn very basic things about alcohol and blood alcohol levels and the perceptions that students have about alcohol abuse and substance abuse," Graney said. "Then, the second hour they come back and they talk about their own choices, what different choices they could have made and what choices they'll make in the future."

SAPS also uses the Common Ground grant, which allows the university to do research involving alcohol abuse.

"The Common Ground grant is a grant that psychology professor Mark Wood and Dean of Students Fran Cohen got from the National Institutes of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse," Graney said. "It's a five-year grant to do research with college towns and the universities that are with them."

The grant is geared toward bringing together URI and the Town of Narragansett to reduce the incidences of drunk driving as much as possible.

Graney is also working with RamChoices, which is geared toward athletes, and RamGoals for Greek organizations.

Opportunities to gain more information and become involved with the program will be available during National Alcohol Screening Day on Oct. 27.

Presentations about alcohol and substance abuse are also available.

"A lot of what I do is just stop in to the fraternities, the sororities and the residence halls or the athletic teams, and just do presentations on alcohol and substance abuse, or answer any sort of questions they have about alcohol abuse," Graney said. "I can tailor the presentation to whoever I'm talking to."

Graney urges students who feel they have an issue to stop in and talk.

"We're here for the students for educational purposes and you're not going to get in trouble if you come to talk with us," Graney said. "Even though we work out of the office of Student Life, were not the judicial branch of it, so if you have questions, or if you need help, or if you're not sure that you might need help, just come in and talk to us because that's why we're here."