Task force tackles binge drinking

Todd Vanderwerff

Todd Vanderwerff

SDSU and the city of Brookings have launched a new partnership to educate students about alcohol and substance abuse, but some students believe the partnership may be in vain.

SDSU’s alcohol education task force became a committee called the university substance abuse education and response (USER) during reorganization efforts.

The task force was responsible for the first wave of SDSU’s response to reports of nation-wide college binge drinking and alcoholism.

The task force spawned such programs as the Four-No-More poster campaign, which dominated the SDSU campus during the 1999-2000 school year, but disappeared early in the Fall 2000 semester.

“Our goal is really to help people make good choices for themselves,” said Janet Mullen, director for Health and Counseling Services at SDSU.

Mullen’s background includes posts in organizations based in Washington, D.C., which had similar aspirations.

Among those who spearheaded the partnership between the community of Brookings and SDSU was Brookings Police Chief Tim Tompkins, who had previous experience in working with the university as a representative of the city of Brookings.

“We’re kind of sitting back and offering what resources we can to support their efforts and do what we can,” Tompkins said in an interview with The Brookings Register for a cover story on Monday, Jan. 6.

According to Mullen, one of the first things the committee suggested doing was bringing students into the organization.

“They didn’t have students on it before and we thought that was a bit of an oversight. … It’s been great to have them on board,” Mullen said.

Mullen said the committee’s first step will be to administer a survey to the SDSU campus, much like the one that produced the “Four No More” campaign in 1999.

However, according to Mullen, there were some problems with that survey.

It was only administered to students living in the dorms, thereby presenting a portrayal of how students living in the dorms lived, but not one of the campus as a whole.

Mullen hopes to do a much more thorough survey, which will provide a representative sample of SDSU as a whole, including off-campus students and graduate students.

“We’re really kind of trying to do a sampling of all students in all locations,” Mullen said.

The survey will hopefully help the committee recognize SDSU’s problem areas and then craft strategies designed to help alleviate those problems.

However, these strategies will not be foisted on the public, then left to twist in the wind.

They will be examined with follow-up surveys, which will closely look at these strategies effectiveness.

With this information, the committee will adjust strategies or even abandon them altogether.

They also hope to help students find the many varieties of help offered to students with problems on the SDSU campus.

Ultimately, the committee hopes to educate the SDSU community about the problems and dangers associated with alcohol abuse and create a community of responsible drinkers who know what they can and cannot tolerate.

Students were generally less optimistic.

“I don’t think it would have an effect. If someone’s going to drink, they’re going to drink,” said William Hayes, a freshman pre-pharmacy major from Harrisburg.

Hayes and his friends said that they didn’t see much drinking in the residence halls and didn’t really see very much on the weekends, as everyone goes home, but they did see people walking around drunk in the residence halls onThursday nights.

Hayes and his friends also weren’t sure what to make of Tompkins’ proposal to educate people about the consequences of alcohol abuse from a legal perspective.

“I think it would be helpful to know exactly what would happen to you,” Hayes said.

However, his friends weren’t sure students would care.

“(Students) know something’s going to happen to them anyway,” said Jerik Gosser, a freshman wildlife management major from Minneota, Minn.

However, according to Mullen, the goal is not to reach everyone, but to reach those who need help and information.

“I think people who want to get around laws and regulations will probably find a way to do it. But our focus is really to provide people healthy choices and informed choices,” Mullen said.