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National Leaders
Substance Abuse Prevention



The University of Rhode Island’s nationally known leadership role in battling substance abuse on its campus did not happen overnight. It is a position that has evolved through careful planning, research, and prevention efforts undertaken by individuals at various levels — from the president to professional staff to faculty to student mentors. While challenging, the results have also been rewarding. Below is a synopsis of the steps taken in our community:
Strong Policy + Education + Enforcement = Results

* 1987-88 Thursday night parties that include alcohol are prohibited.
* 1990-91 Beer kegs and common containers (e.g. punch) are prohibited.
* 1991 Stricter penalties for alcohol policy violations are instituted through a citation system: first violation - $30 fine plus disciplinary probation; second violation - $50 fine plus additional probation plus required education; third violation - mandatory two semester suspension. Sanctions for minor illegal drug use (marijuana) are comparable to those for alcohol policy violations.
* Sept. 1995

President takes
a Stand

• Although URI has long been concerned with preventing substance abuse, the University’s efforts received a boost -- and some bold new directions -- under President Robert L. Carothers. President Carothers announced changes in policies during Convocation ceremonies. "We cannot build the new culture for learning to which we aspire in an environment which is depressed and dampened everyday by the impact of alcohol and drug abuse, and we should not, and cannot, hide from that reality any longer. It is time to take a stand at URI."• Fines for alcohol policy violations increase to $50 for the first violation and $100 for the second. Disciplinary Probation and Suspension sanctions are still in place and the educational interventions mentioned above are increased to two one-hour one-on-one sessions. All Social events with alcohol are prohibited on campus.
* 1995-98 Student attendance at drug awareness workshops increases sharply. In 1995-96, 2,700 students participated in various programs; by 1997-98, 6,500 -- about half of the student body -- participated in such programs.
* 1996 • Students are required to complete a self-assessment survey when paying fines to collect more information about students who violate policy.• President Carothers forms an innovative and interdisciplinary "Health Promotion Partnership" that draws on cross-disciplinary university-wide talents.
* 1996-97 URI’s policy and peer education programs are included in Promising Practices, a guide to college substance abuse programs nationally published by George Mason University.
* 1997 President Carothers is one of only six university presidents to be appointed to the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Drug Prevention Presidential Leadership Group, which compiles the report, Be Vocal, Be Visible, Be Visionary: Recommendations for College and University Presidents on Alcohol and other Drug Prevention.
November
The URI Higher Education Alcohol Research Center is formed to foster research on methods and interventions for prevention. The Center connects research with practice, and is believed to be the only one of its kind nationally.
August
URI’s aggressive alcohol policies are cited as a major factor in its overcoming its "party school" reputation, in a special Aug. 20 report by USA Today.
* 1998 • URI is cited among nine schools out of 140 in a Harvard School of Public Health national study that showed a statistically significant decline in binge-drinking from when the first survey was conducted in 1994.
• President Carothers is asked to join the National Advisory Council Subcommittee on College Drinking, part of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The subcommittee is charged with developing a national college drinking plan.
Spring
In the Spring of 1998, the "Alcohol Team" (the A-Team) was formed as part of the innovative and interdisciplinary "Health Promotion Partnership." The Alcohol Team is unique nationally because it links campus-based research at URI to prevention and outreach efforts run by the Office of Student Life. The 12-member team consists of faculty researchers, administrators, and staff from the Cancer Prevention Research Center, the Office of Student Life, the Counseling Center, Health Services, the Research Office and Recreational Services/Athletics and students participate in team projects.
* 1999 • The National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism awards URI $1.4 million to evaluate the effectiveness of a program to curb binge-drinking. The intervention is aimed at freshmen and sophomores, who are most at risk for this behavior, and is based on the transtheoretical or "stages of change" behavior model developed at URI.
• President Carothers names Fran Cohen, a member of the Alcohol Team and formerly director of student life, as Dean of Students -- a significant job title change and one that recognizes her contributions to many aspects of student life and her initiative in tackling tough problems like substance abuse.
• Parents are notified routinely by mail after the second alcohol or drug violation and after the first violation if it is a serious one.
* 2001

 

Parents receive letters from the University about off-campus alcohol violations occurring in neighboring towns.
* 2003

 

 

 

 

 

• University awarded 5.6 million in federal funding for its ongoing and proposed efforts to reduce alcohol abuse among college students. Members of the University's Alcohol Research Center and the Health Promotion Partnership's Alcohol Team received a strong vote of support from the Dept. of Health and Human Services' National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism with grants for two different research proposals. Associate Professor Mark Wood of the Psychology Department and Cancer Prevention Research Center, is the principal investigator on both grants: $3.5 million for "Environmental Methods for Reducing College Drinking" and $2.1 million for "Alcohol Early Intervention for Freshmen."
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University of Rhode Island

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File last updated: Thursday, July 28, 2005

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