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WVU to Host Statewide Conference Governor's Summit to Focus on High-Risk Drinking on College Campuses

WVU to Host Statewide Conference Governor’s Summit to Focus on High-Risk Drinking on College Campuses

Athens, W.Va. - Alcohol abuse on college and university campuses nationwide constitutes a serious problem which may lead to tragic consequences. A recent study conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) found that alcohol abuse annually plays a role in approximately 1, 400 deaths, 500,000 injuries, 600,000 assaults and 70,000 cases of sexual assault and acquaintance rape on college campuses across America.

Given the overreaching negative societal impact such abuse leads to, and its ultimate detrimental affect on people’s lives, the first-ever Governor’s Summit on Alcohol Use in Higher Education will be held Monday, April 7, at West Virginia University’s Mountainlair student union in Morgantown.

Attendees will discuss all relevant issues, problems and solutions concerning alcohol and substance abuse on college campuses. Those expected to attend include state Education and the Arts Secretary Kay Goodwin, Tax & Revenue Secretary Brian Kastick, Alcohol Beverage and Control Administration (ABCA) Commissioner Tom Keeley, Governor’s Highway Safety Program Director Bob Tipton, many of West Virginia’s college and university presidents, and various other community leaders and members.

“There are some 85,000 college students in this state, some of whom engage in high-risk drinking,” explained Gov. Bob Wise. “ The goal of this conference will be to improve student life, safety and education on our campuses and in our respective college towns through grass-roots, community-based initiatives.”

Bill DeJong, director of the U.S. Department of Education’s Higher Education Center on Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention, will discuss in detail the ramifications of the recently issued NIAAA Report. The Higher Education Center offers specialized training, technical assistance, publications and other information to assist those who desire to actively participate in improving the environment in which students make decisions about alcohol and other drug use.

Concord College President Jerry L. Beasley: "I applaud the efforts of WVU and the ABCA and their focus on the problems associated with alcohol abuse on our campuses. Concord has a ‘zero tolerance’ for alcohol and drugs. We have strict policies in place that are clearly communicated to our students through printed materials, the College's web site, and education programs in our residence halls. The penalties include prosecution of the students through our student-court system which can include: requiring students to take "alcohol 101," performing community service or receiving counseling. In addition, if found guilty of certain offences, students can be convicted of a misdemeanor, receive jail time, or be fined. The penalties send a clear message that alcohol abuse will not be tolerated."

Luncheon speaker Adam Chafetz, president of Health Communication, Inc., will discuss the various aspects and composition of campus and community partnerships.

Additionally, workshop sessions are planned to share best practices and ideas among law enforcement officers, health educators and counselors, students, community members, school administrators, faculty and others.

Following the sessions, Director DeJong will summarize, critique and offer input regarding the workshop sessions’ discussion product and will chart a plan of action for the state. ABCA Education and Prevention Supervisor Gig Robinson will subsequently outline resources available to help colleges and universities carry out the plan.

The day-long conference will include a signing ceremony and a proclamation of commitment by higher education officials to alcohol and substance abuse prevention.

The summit is sponsored by the West Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Administration and the Governor’s Highway Safety Program in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Education’s Higher Education Center on Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention and WVU. Supporting organizations include The Network Addressing Collegiate Alcohol and Other Drug Issues, West Virginia Division of Health and Human Resources, West Virginia Prevention Resource Center and Health Communication, Inc.

Continuing education units are available for participants.

For more information, contact: Gig Robinson, Education and Prevention Supervisor, ABCA, 1-800-642-8208; Ken Gray, VP, WVU Student Affairs, 1-304-293-5811 or Concord College Director of Housing & Residence Life, Rick Dillon, 1-304-384-5231,