Abbott names President’s Task Force

Abbott names President's Task Force University of South Dakota President James W. Abbott has announced the creation of the President's Task Force on Alcohol, Drug and Violence Prevention. The task force will promote positive ideals and increase student understanding of alcohol and drug abuse.

"We hope to reestablish the social norms on our campus. We must foster an environment of healthy living and positive ideals which empower our students to achieve success," said Abbott. "The task force will face many challenges along the way. Through the combined efforts of the university and community, we will have the resources necessary to promote change and foster new traditions."

The task force will consist of two groups � policy and action. USD Executive Assistant to the President Roger Kozak will co-chair the policy task force with the soon-to-be-appointed USD dean of students.

Members will include the USD Judicial coordinator, USD director of public safety, and the USD prevention specialist as well as on-campus representatives of the Residence Hall Association, Panhellenic Council, Interfraternity Council, Student Association, a student at-large, Academic Affairs, Career Services, and Intercollegiate Athletics.

Members from the Vermillion community will include representatives from the Mayor's Office, Police Department, Public School System, Vermillion Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and the business community.

The action task force, known as the "Group of Nine Plus or Minus One," will be co-chaired by Jackie Moon, coordinator of Alcohol and Drug Services, and Von Stange, director of Residential Life. Contributions will be made by faculty, student and staff in the areas of Student Health, Greek Life, Native American Cultural Center, Public Safety, Student Body, Academic Affairs, Intercollegiate Athletics and Alcohol and Drug Abuse Studies Program.

The primary objectives of the task force follow the guidelines of the President's Leadership Group of the U.S. Department of Education's Higher Education Center for Alcohol and other Drug Prevention. The group's findings, printed in a publication entitled Be Vocal, Be Visible, Be Visionary point out the importance of community and campus collaboration as well as the importance of a broad prevention approach to student alcohol abuse, including a "more complete understanding" of the ways societal conditions can drive alcohol use.

The President's Leadership Group, which includes presidents of the University of Rhode Island, University of Iowa, Tennessee Wesleyan College, Ohio State University, Prairie View A&M University, and the University of Missouri, recommends an environmental management approach to prevention.

In the past, according to the President's Leadership Group, higher education institutions focused on education and intervention strategies oriented toward individual students. They point out that two decades of prevention research indicate the need for a comprehensive approach to alcohol and drug abuse. Such programs address specific educational needs of students and also seek basic change at the institutional, community and public policy levels.

According to Moon, the task force is a continuation of efforts by USD to address alcohol, drug and violence issues. The USD Student Counseling Center's Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program has been accredited by the South Dakota Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse since 1991.

A campus-wide survey will be conducted to establish current alcohol and other drug information on students' actual use, students' perception of use and areas impacted by their use. Regular follow-up surveys will be conducted to document change. The "Group of Nine Plus or Minus One" will serve as the core group of the campus/community coalition with a mandate to address alcohol and other drug issues in the community as a whole.

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