WMU News

State grant encourages alcohol-free, drug-free campus living

April 8, 1999

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University received a $36,000 state grant April 5 to augment its alcohol and drug education programs and services.

The grant is part of $433,000 set aside by the Michigan Department of Community Health to implement comprehensive mentoring programs that emphasize an alcohol- and drug-free approach to campus life.

"The purpose of this project is to assist incoming freshmen who would like to make the transition from high school to college without using alcohol," James K. Haveman Jr., director of Michigan's community health department, said April 1 in announcing the mentoring initiative.

"In light of the tragic alcohol-related deaths of college students and the recent senseless destructive behavior on college campuses, it is clear that programs like this are needed more than ever."

Through the grants, Haveman said the state will be working in partnership with 12 public institutions to change behaviors and educate students about the dangers associated with alcohol. Participants in addition to WMU and the grants they have been awarded are:

In addition, $81,000 will go to Prevention Network Inc., Michigan's coalition to support and expand community substance abuse prevention efforts. The funds will be used to coordinate the campus mentoring programs, promote them to high school students and their parents, recruit mentors, and provide support for participating universities.

Sandy Barry-Loken, director of WMU's Office of Student Activities and Leadership programs, said this past March WMU and the state's other public universities were invited to attend a workshop on the mentoring program and apply for the grants. The Department of Community Health reviewed the applications to ensure they met program criteria. Grant awards were determined based on the quality of the application and the current freshman census on each campus.

"WMU already has numerous longstanding programs and services that deal with alcohol-related issues," Barry-Loken said.

"The mentoring grant will be an additional tool that we can use in our ongoing effort to help educate students, promote responsible behavior and provide support for those who choose to socialize at college without the use of alcohol."

Barry-Loken said among WMU's existing programs and services are specialized offices that address alcohol- and drug-related issues, such as University Substance Abuse Services and the Office of Health Promotion and Education; individual projects, such as an interactive CD-ROM called Alcohol 101 that is made widely available in the residence halls; and mandatory alcohol seminars for students cited by Student Judicial Affairs for alcohol-policy infractions.

Also supporting WMU's broader efforts are several student groups, Barry-Loken added, including GAMMA (Greeks Advocating the Mature Management of Alcohol), Peers Educating Peers, WE CARE/SADD (WEstern's Committee for Alcohol Responsibility and Education/Students Against Drunk Driving), Eta Sigma Gamma (health fraternity), and the Student Health Advisory Board.

Additional initiatives at the state level may soon be having a local impact as well.

Haveman noted that the Department of Community Health recently implemented a $150,000 advertising campaign aimed at educating college students on the dangers of binge-drinking.

The department also will fund a $50,000 program to train university health professionals to recognize and deal with binge drinking problems on campuses in which it will work closely with participating universities along with the Michigan State Police, local law enforcement agencies and the state Liquor Control Commission to stop underage drinking and excessive drinking.

More information about WMU's mentoring grant and its alcohol-related policies and services is available by calling Barry-Loken at (616) 387-2115. More information about alcohol and binge drinking is available from the Department of Community Health by visiting its World Wide Web site at <www.mdch.state.mi.us>.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, 616 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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