As presidents, we hardly need to be reminded of the dangers of overconsumption of alcohol by students. Whether we are faced with an embarrassing incident at a tailgate before a football game, or a frightening call at 3 a.m., we know this is an issue with potentially tragic ramifications. Even when the effects are less dramatic, alcohol and other drugs still have a negative impact on student mental health and academic achievement.
National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week, which falls this year on Oct. 16-22, is a crucial time for presidents, together with student affairs professionals and other administrators, to focus on positive action to promote healthier student behavior across the country. I’m encouraged to see campuses hosting presentations and social activities that educate students on the importance of healthy, safe decisions about alcohol consumption. I applaud the efforts of The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility and other organizations as they continue to advocate and educate on this issue.
But our efforts must continue past this week. To effect change, we must constantly endeavor to adjust campus culture around alcohol and other drugs. Presidents, more than anyone else on campus, have the unique ability to set tone and make important decisions that can help ease the problem, and a number of presidents have undertaken these initiatives with great results. As we move forward, let’s ensure these practices are shared and put into place across the country. Particularly as we aim to meet heightened graduation goals and strive to compete globally in the 21st century, it is a responsibility to our students, our academic missions and the future of this country to set our campuses on a healthy course.
Molly Corbett Broad is the president of the American Council on Education (ACE). Founded in 1918, ACE is the major coordinating body for all the nation’s higher education institutions, representing more than 1,600 college and university presidents, and more than 200 related associations, nationwide.