UMES joins Dartmouth initiative to curb binge drinking
PRINCESS ANNE, MD-(August 2, 2011) The University of Maryland Eastern Shore hopes to contribute some unique input as the only Historically Black College and University to be selected as a member of the Learning Collaborative sponsored by Dartmouth College on high-risk drinking on American campuses.
“Close to 40 percent of college students in the United States engage in binge drinking,” said Dartmouth College President Jim Yong Kim. “By collaborating on this issue, comparing our experiences, and learning from each other’s best practices, we believe we are much more likely to make meaningful progress.”
UMES could help fill the gaps in statistical data with respect to African-American students and alcohol use. “We are participating in the Collaborative not because we have a pronounced problem with high-risk drinking at UMES, but because we, as an HBCU, can contribute information on the subject as it relates to African-American students,” said Dr. Anthony Jenkins, vice president of student affairs. The Collaborative creates an opportunity for institutions like UMES, Yale, Dartmouth, Duke and others to learn from one another while addressing these issues on a national stage, he said.
UMES is no different than any other college campus in that all colleges are addressing alcohol use in a proactive manner, said Lauresa Wigfall, director of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Prevention Center at the university. The goal is to prevent harmful, high-risk drinking, which involves consuming five alcoholic drinks for men and four for women in one sitting.
On many of the measures of the Core Alcohol and Drug Survey, one of several used by colleges across the country, UMES scores lower than the national average, said Wigfall. “Protective factors are in place on our campus and in the surrounding community that help to deter alcohol use on campus. For instance, there aren’t any alcohol industry-sponsored events, nor are there areas on campus that serve alcohol to students and there are a limited number of alcohol outlets in the area surrounding campus,” she said.
UMES is among 31 colleges in the National College Health Improvement Project’s Learning Collaborative on High-Risk Drinking, including the University of Maryland Baltimore County and Frostburg State University.
As part of the initiative, UMES representatives will attend face-to-face workshops every six months and participate in monthly virtual meetings. Results from the task force’s findings should be published a year from now.
Dr. Kimberly Poole-Sykes, principal investigator for the grant for the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Prevention Center at UMES, said, the Collaborative can greatly impact the way the university provides alcohol counseling. “Our desire is to make campus policy changes that impact healthy decision-making regarding alcohol consumption and gain campus wide support to ensure that students who are at-risk receive culturally effective alcohol counseling,” she said.
Gail Stephens, assistant director, UMES Office of Public Relations, 410-651-7580, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bill Robinson, director, UMES Office of Public Relations, 410-621-2355, email@example.com.