Student Affairs opens Office of Alcohol Policy and Education

Sept. 27, 2011, 3:04 a.m.

Vice Provost for Student Affairs Greg Boardman announced in a Sept. 8 email the formation of an Office of Alcohol Policy and Education (OAPE), to be headed by former Vaden Health Center Associate Director Ralph Castro.

For his first year in the position, Castro – who is now associate dean of Student Affairs and director of OAPE – will report directly to Boardman. He is joined by former ASSU President Angelina Cardona ’11, who will focus on developing alcohol-free events on campus, and Jarreau Bowen ’07, former Peer Health Educators coordinator, who will fill Castro’s former responsibility of alcohol outreach education. Castro and Bowen have one-year and one-quarter terms, respectively.

The office’s first major development has been the establishment of a centralized alcohol policy on its website.

“The policy was dispersed under a number of different offices, and what we did over the summer is we brought it all together under one document to make it more student-friendly and understood,” Boardman said. “I think it’s going to go a long way in helping clarify confusion and such around the policy in the past. We’re going to want to improve clarity, consistency, accountability.”

“We are asking all students to be responsible, both personally and collectively,” added Castro in an email to The Daily. “We introduced a model to student staff to encourage them to set constructive norms at the outset and actively engage residents in ongoing conversations about alcohol.”

The office is funded by a special grant from the Provost. According to Boardman, it will work with several departments across Student Affairs and campus in general – among them Vaden, Student Activities and Leadership, the Graduate Life Office, ASSU, campus police and Residential Education.

Given that their statistics show that a significant amount of drinking occurs in residence halls, both Boardman and Castro expressed the urgency of proper training for residence staff.

“We believe that by actively setting positive norms and engaging with residents throughout the year on the front end, that student staff will be able to prevent negative consequences and limit the amount of time they spend responding to dangerous behaviors on the back end,” Castro said.

Cardona will be implementing special initiatives based on a concern that, according to Boardman, several residential assistants have expressed: “a lack of alternative kinds of programs” to alcohol-centered events.

“[Last] weekend wasn’t directly planned by our office, but it’s kind of connected in the sense of there’s no football game on Saturday, but the array of activities that are planned for the weekend in lieu of a football game, so those are the kinds of things that this office will be working on,” Boardman said.

Meanwhile, Bowen will be focused on alcohol outreach education throughout campus.

“I will primarily oversee all outreach and educational initiatives for our office including, but not limited to, dorm talks, seminars, academic courses and research projects,” he wrote in an email to The Daily. “Our University and our student body is dynamic and our office hopes to grow and change just as our students do. We are always looking for new ideas and different ways to work with students, staff and faculty to continue/enhance our efforts.”

He also stressed the importance of community engagement in the success of alcohol education.

“We’ve engaged with parents during NSO and we’re working closely with faculty and [resident fellows],” he said. “We are also developing research projects to examine trends on our campus. You will also start to see many alcohol-free alternative events on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. We’ve got much more to come but love to hear from students about what they’d like to see as well.”

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