Connecticut state law prohibits consumption of alcohol by people under the age of 21.
These words may be plastered to walls in countless party suites where Yalies of all ages imbibe beer, punch, jello shots, champagne and screwdrivers in various quantities and combinations, but now, two state-run health and safety agencies are taking active measures to teach universities how to curb illegal alcohol consumption and its side effects.
On Friday, the Governor’s Prevention Partnership and the Connecticut Coalition to Stop Underage Drinking sponsored a conference at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn. Participants were members of state law enforcement, the Department of Liquor Control, the Department of Transportation, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and eight Connecticut colleges and universities.
Dawn Cassiello, campus program coordinator for the Governor’s Prevention Partnership, organized the conference. Cassiello said the purpose of the program was to lay the groundwork for drinking prevention at colleges through brainstorming, outlining steps to create programs and creating sample mission statements.
“What we’re trying to do is strengthen the alcohol prevention efforts statewide by bringing diverse representation together and allowing them to work together and helping them solve this problem,” Cassiello said.
Yale’s delegate to the conference, Security Education Coordinator Susan Landino, said the new information was useful, but it will be up to University Health Services to decide how to implement any new policies at Yale.
“I attended the conference to learn more about the state’s efforts in prevention,” Landino said in an e-mail. “I found the day’s program to be interesting and informative and look forward to hearing more about what is happening statewide.”
Last semester, the University toyed with the idea of alerting parents when students are disciplined for alcohol infractions — a proposal which was abandoned for safety concerns.
Cassiello added that a primary motivation for the conference was the high rate of underage drinking in Connecticut.
The Core Alcohol and Drug Survey, conducted at seven Connecticut institutions of higher learning from 1996 to 1999, found that college students in this state have an average of 7.8 alcoholic drinks per week, compared to the national average of 5.2. Also, the study found that 55.2 percent of Connecticut students reported binge drinking in a two-week span, in contrast to the national average of 42 percent.
The survey identified the negative consequences of college drinking as damaging property, drinking and driving, fighting, attempting suicide, assaulting or being assaulted by someone sexually, performing poorly in school and becoming physically ill from alcohol.
Nationwide, 89.7 percent of students surveyed had consumed alcohol in the past year, and 79.2 percent of underage students had consumed alcohol in the previous 30 days.
The Connecticut Coalition to Stop Underage Drinking seeks to reduce underage drinking by changing conditions contributing to the problem, such as businesses selling alcohol to minors. The Governor’s Prevention Partnership’s mission is to lead a statewide prevention movement that promotes the health, safety and well-being of the state’s future and current workforce. The two groups intend to reduce illegal alcohol consumption statewide through teams encouraging collaboration between schools and their communities.