Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 7
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
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University ACC Advocates “Holistic Approach” in Effort to Combat High-Risk Drinking

Ellen Gilbert

Earlier this month, Borough police officers responded to 13 calls of intoxicated or disorderly individuals at Princeton University. Between 2 p.m. on Friday the 6th and 3 a.m. on Sunday morning, 12 students, most of them underage, were transported to the University Medical Center at Princeton, and one was arrested for disorderly conduct and intoxication, Borough Police Lieutenant Nicholas Sutter reported. That particular weekend was rush, or “bicker,” weekend at the campus eating clubs.

The cases are currently under investigation.

While Lt. Sutter has seen a “definite increase” in the number of alcohol-related calls over the past year, Director of Campus Life Initiatives Amy Campbell, who is also the administrator for the Princeton University’s Alcohol Coalition Committee (ACC), said that increased intoxication transport statistics don’t necessarily mean more high-risk drinking.

“What we commonly see after an education campaign is an increased awareness that leads to more students taking the action the University has recommended. In this case, our education campaigns may mean more students helping their intoxicated friends,” Ms. Campbell remarked.

Set up to address high-risk drinking on campus, the Committee defines the concept as “any time the health, well-being, or safety of the individual drinking or others is compromised or when community standards are compromised.”

“There is no magic bullet, or single event, or idea that is going to change this,” Ms. Campbell said in an interview. “You need a really holistic approach to change the culture.”

The ACC is comprised of students, faculty, and staff from all over the University, and working groups have been created to determine how to curb risky drinking. The student representation on the ACC includes “every facet of student life on campus,” according to Ms. Campbell.

Saying that the “primary message to students is to get help if you think another student is in trouble,” Ms. Campbell noted that the ACC’s strategic plan operates in five broad categories: education; policies, procedures, and discipline; activities, programs, and events; structures and environment; and communication and partnerships.

The information gathered from students, faculty, and staff during a workshop last December “will help define the work to be done next year,” Ms. Campbell said.

Implementing various strategies is an ongoing process. For now, the question remains: “What are the kinds of things that help shift a culture?”

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