USD Greek community hosts alcohol summit

USD Greek community hosts alcohol summit Greek life at The University of South Dakota recently took a step toward setting the standard for alcohol misuse and abuse awareness.

On Feb. 9-11 the USD Greek community hosted the North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) Alcohol Summit.

Thirty-six Greek students representing all 13 chapters on the USD campus gathered and dedicated a weekend to looking at the issues of alcohol misuse and abuse on the USD campus. Students stepped up to take the responsibility and initiative to build a stronger Greek community by planning programs and setting long-term goals to raise awareness.

Lindsey Mercer, head facilitator of the NIC Alcohol Summit, helped develop the program used at USD. Mercer set a goal to encourage students and motivate them to create action plans for reducing high risk drinking at USD.

"In spite of the stereotypes that exist, Greek students really do care about the issue of alcohol and are committed to making a difference," Mercer said. "Greek students at USD have taken the initiative to proactively address the issue of high risk drinking. THis makes the USD Greek community a role model for other campuses and I hope others follow their example."

Students were separated into three groups and asked to set an agenda for change along with goals to present to the group. The curriculum used in the program is reflective of the social-change model of leadership development and assumes that the group in question intends to engage in some form of a "change-action" project.

"I hope that the Alcohol Summit opens some minds to the problems of alcohol misuse on campus and that this will bring about change and help stop alcohol misuse at USD," said Jeff Johnson, USD Interfraternity Council president.

The unique aspect of this program is the follow up evaluations. Mercer will continue to visit USD over the next two years to help ensure that students follow through with their plans to make a positive impact on the Greek community and the entire USD campus.

USD was one of eight universities across the country chosen to host the pilot program, and the fourth to actually receive it. The NIC looked at universities across the country to find strong Greek communities with a high level of commitment to test the Alcohol Summit program.

Other universities chosen to host the Alcohol Summit were: Mercer University, GA; University of Arizona; Bucknell University, PA; University of Florida; Valdosta State University, GA; Adrian College, MI; and Elon College, NC.

The NIC Alcohol Summit program has received a grant totaling nearly $1 million dollars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

"The Federal government is very happy with the success we have had already," Mercer said. "There is definitely a chance to expand the program."

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