BOZEMAN – Montana State University recently held the first organizational meeting of a new community and campus coalition working to reduce the incidence of substance abuse among students.
The Substance Abuse Free Environment, or SAFE, Coalition is made up of more than 30 members and includes students, faculty and staff as well as local business, education and government leaders.
The group will initially take a closer look at 10 recommendations on how to reduce the harm from alcohol and substance use on the campus. The recommendations cover a wide range of topics from providing more resources to students trying to recover from alcohol and substance addictions, to evaluating programs that educate students on the responsible use of alcohol, to providing more late-night and weekend activities for students.
“Typically, coalitions such as this are called together after a crisis,” said Chris Kearns, MSU vice president of the Division of Student Success and one of the coalition’s co-chairs. “For us, we have the tremendous opportunity to talk about these issues and make changes when we are not in the midst of a crisis.”
Alcohol and substance abuse topics are often handled as discrete issues or one-time events on college campuses, but “this group gives us a chance to connect the dots and have a broader and more coherent approach to these complicated issues,” Kearns said.
The coalition’s initial 10 topics for examination in greater depth were identified by the President’s Commission on Substance Abuse Prevention, PCSAP, which was created by President Cruzado in the fall of 2012 to move the campus forward in a coordinated way in addressing alcohol and substance abuse issues.
Steve Swinford, associate professor in the MSU Department of Sociology and Anthropology, is serving as co-chair with Kearns on the coalition.
“The topics from the PCSAP commission will be prioritized and working groups on each will be formed in the coming months,” Swinford said. “Recommendations from the working groups will then be presented to the SAFE coalition as suggestions to improve or policies and practices.”
For more information about the SAFE Coalition, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (406) 994-2828.
Chris Kearns and Steve Swinford, email@example.com and (406) 994-2828