State Leaders Convene to Address College Alcohol Problems

Article excerpt

DENVER

Representatives from 39 states gathered in Denver last month for the fourth annual Statewide Initiatives Leadership Institute, a four-day event sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education's Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention to address how comprehensive regional efforts can curb college student underage and high-risk drinking.

Meeting participants came from state government substance abuse offices and alcohol beverage control agencies, colleges and universities, and state coalitions working to reduce underage drinking.

"This coordinated approach is extremely effective in addressing the issue of underage and high-risk drinking on America's campuses," says William DeJong, director of the Higher Education Center. "The partnerships cultivated through statewide initiatives make change possible -- uniting college presidents, campus health educators, state and local government officials," he says.

The Institute serves multiple functions: It offers an opportunity for the Higher Education Center to increase the effectiveness of existing statewide college alcohol and other drug prevention initiatives and to encourage the creation of new initiatives in states that are ready to implement this promising approach.

Through an intense strategic planning process, participants assess the direction of their statewide and regional efforts and gain expertise in evaluating these efforts. Discussions also identify commonalities shared by initiatives, whether it is the struggles of early development, or implementing policy change on a statewide level. The Institute is also an opportunity for established initiatives to serve as mentors to newer efforts, sharing stories about motivating their state to action. …