University System to Implement Alcohol and Substance Abuse Initiative



Atlanta - May 10, 2016

Today, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia (USG) approved a system-wide alcohol and substance abuse initiative as recommended by USG Chancellor Hank Huckaby and the USG Alcohol and Substance Abuse Task Force.

Last July, Huckaby charged the Task Force with reviewing and developing recommendations related to alcohol and substance abuse at the System's institutions. Huckaby convened the task force in response to a 2015 recommendation by the USG Campus Safety and Security Committee, which found that "the abuse of alcohol and other substances is a significant contributing factor in many of the most serious public safety issues" and should therefore receive additional study.

"A System-wide alcohol and substance abuse initiative is critical to our efforts to address and prevent abuse comprehensively across our 29 institutions," said Huckaby. "While there is no simple solution, sharing and promoting best practices in education and prevention efforts will play an essential role in each of our campus communities."

The Task Force, led by Presidents Jere Morehead of the University of Georgia and Cheryl Dozier of Savannah State University, consisted of: USG faculty, staff and students, representatives from Georgia's private colleges and universities, and the Georgia Municipal Association.

Included in the report are nine recommendations by the Task Force:

Student Attitudes and Culture
• Recommendation 1: Each USG institution should assess the Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) culture on its individual campus through environmental scans, current campus data and faculty/staff/student focus groups, which can provide a strong baseline of information, including documenting and evaluating all programs for effectiveness.

• Recommendation 2: The USG should create and adopt System-wide guidelines and procedures that require regular reporting of USG institutions on AOD abuse issues.

Education and Prevention
• Recommendation 1: Each USG institution should develop comprehensive, evidence-based programs to reduce the harm associated with AOD abuse among students.

• Recommendation 2: Institutions, with guidance and assistance from the USG, should assess options for ensuring the presence of a professional staff of AOD abuse counselors and/or other trained professionals necessary to support the AOD education and prevention efforts of each institution.

• Recommendation 3: Each institution should select a representative to participate in regular, System-wide meetings to review and discuss current trends and emerging best practices in AOD education, prevention, intervention, and recovery and support services for adoption and implementation across the state.

• Recommendation 4: Institutions should develop a positive messaging framework that promotes healthy decision-making around AOD use and discourages AOD abuse.

Town/Gown Relations
• Recommendation 1: The USG should engage with the Georgia Department of Revenue (DOR) to explore stronger penalties for the underage sale of liquor and similar violations.

• Recommendation 2: Institutions should promote greater interaction between officials involved in alcohol and drug enforcement at the campus and local levels.

• Recommendation 3: The USG should ask the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) to draft a model alcohol license ordinance for cities/local governments.

Though thorough, the Task Force recognized that the review was not exhaustive due to the vastness of issues surrounding alcohol and drug abuse and recommends that the USG continue the dialogue by directing its Committee on Student Activities and Student Life to bring fresh perspective to these and other issues:

• AOD abuse in middle schools and high schools and how prevention efforts, if introduced at this level, could reduce the AOD problem in colleges and universities;

• A more in-depth review of the prevalence of illicit drug use within institutions of higher learning in the state; and

• Pilot programs to combat AOD abuse and gather relevant data.

The Task Force also noted the importance of continuing to ensure the voice of USG students is heard and part of future discussions.

The full report can be downloaded here: Final Report of the USG Task Force on Alcohol and Tobacco.