A report from the Illegal Drug Task Force was released in a campus-wide email on Feb. 22 by Dean of Students Rick Culliton and Director of WesWell Tanya Purdy.

“In spring 2015, we convened a task force to identify best practices with respect to illegal drug policy, outreach and prevention on campus, and improve student safety and wellbeing,” the email reads.

In the aftermath of the drug poisoning on Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015, the University implemented a task force on illegal drugs to look at the policy issues and education initiatives. This group consists of faculty, staff, parents, alumni experts, and local and national prevention and policy experts.

According to the email regarding its recommendations, the task forces intends to highlight six of them.

First, there are plans to augment Bystander Intervention training to include scenarios involving illegal drug use. In addition, they hope to build awareness of the current resources and networks to support students in recovery and help strengthen ties to local treatment resources. Furthermore, the task force intends to work toward alignment of formal and informal messages surrounding alcohol and drug use. Finally there are plans to increase education and communication about not only the University’s judicial outcomes, but also the possible legal consequences that may arise from alcohol and drug use.

The task force has met a handful of times in the past year. At each meeting, the group discusses various topics, including reviewing current efforts of addressing illegal drug use, collecting data of substance use and class years, and developing recommendations for the University in moving forward.

“I’m grateful to the students, faculty, staff and parents who shared their time on this task force to look at this serious issue,” Culliton wrote in an email to The Argus.

In the Illegal Drug Task Force final recommendations submitted to University President Michael Roth on Jan. 19, the group addressed its concerns.

“The task force organized its thinking and recommendations using the Social Ecological Framework,” the report reads. “The framework looks at the environment and breaks down the problem of drug abuse on four different levels which can be imagined as four concentric circles of influence. In the innermost circle are individual issues as they relate to drug use and abuse. The next ring widens to the interpersonal issues related to drug use followed by a ring that looks at the community impacts and lastly a ring which includes the overarching policy and enforcement related to drug use and abuse.”

Additionally, there is data to illustrate a comparison of the University to peer institutions in terms of the staffing in the Health Edcuation/Alcohol and Other Drug prevention work.

“I think it is important that students realize that if they choose to take illegal drugs they face very real consequences that impact their health and safety as well as their future in the form of judicial and legal consequences that can have significant, long-lasting impacts,” Culliton wrote.

Vice President for Student Affairs Michael Whaley further added how this task force has served its importance on campus.

“I’m so grateful to all the members of the task force for their time, their honest conversations, and for bringing their expertise to the table,” Whaley wrote in an email to The Argus. “I think that we de-bunked some myths, forged some important community partnerships, and explored best practices for reducing potential harm within our campus community. I’ll be working with WesWELL and the Dean of Students to enhance our educational efforts around these topics and to support students who are already in recovery or who make a choice to abstain.”

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