Ohio College Presidents Meet

College Presidents gathered at the Governor’s Residence to Discuss The Ohio College Initiative to Reduce High-Risk Drinking

(Columbus, Ohio) – Presidents and senior administrators from 24 Ohio colleges and universities gathered Wednesday for the Annual College President’s Meeting sponsored by Drug-Free Action Alliance and held at the Ohio Governor’s Residence and Heritage Garden. First Lady Frances Strickland welcomed guests as Drug-Free Action Alliance Executive Director Patricia Harmon expressed her gratitude for their partnership in the Ohio College Initiative to Reduce High-Risk Drinking.

For the second year in a row, Shawnee State University President Rita Rice-Morris, Ph.D. is serving as the Honorary Chair of the Ohio College Initiative to Reduce High-Risk Drinking. She challenged her peers to “start the conversation again and get people re-engaged” on their respective campuses and proudly introduced featured speaker, Dr. William DeJong, as a “leader who is making a difference in Ohio.”

William DeJong, Ph.D., Professor for the Department of Community Health Sciences of Boston University School of Public Health addressed various aspects on the importance of modifying student drinking behaviors on college campuses. Dr. DeJong discussed trends in higher education and how alcohol impacts the academic mission. He shared the fact that 1,825 alcohol-related deaths among 18 to 24-year-olds occur each year in the U.S., and that the frequency of heavy drinking on any given campus directly correlates with increased assaults, unsafe sex, drunk driving, vandalism and academic problems (including decreased GPA’s as well as decreased graduation rates). Dr. DeJong also noted another interesting fact: College-prep high school students drink less than their non-college-bound peers in high school. Once in college, these same students drink more than their non-college peers. He said the need for environmental prevention across college campuses is evident and critical.

The Ohio College Initiative to Reduce High Risk Drinking brings together 45 colleges and universities to form campus and community coalitions to reduce the environmental influences that condone or promote high-risk drinking with a focus on five specific strategies: Restricting marketing and promotion of alcohol; Improving social, recreational, and academic options; Limiting alcohol availability; Increasing consistent enforcement of laws and policies; Creating a health-promoting environment (including correcting perceptions of social norms). Drug-Free Action Alliance facilitates this initiative by providing technical assistance and organizing training and meetings such as the College President’s Meeting.