SENATE From the Chairs

A Joint Statement on Alcohol Abuse

Dear Colleagues,

As you know, the campus has recently experienced a number of disturbing alcohol-related incidents, including, most tragically, the death of alumnus Michael Tobin. We join with President Rodin, Provost Barchi, and others, in expressing our deep concern over these events, and we join with them as well in our determination to work toward appropriate responses.

Alcohol abuse has been, and remains, a serious problem at American colleges and universities, including Penn. Too many of our students have embraced a culture of drinking, in which social satisfaction is linked to the excessive consumption of alcohol. The faculty cares about the welfare of our students, and wants to assist them to behave as successful members of their several communities, persons who value their own health and safety, and accept responsibility for the well-being of others. We know that students are often influenced by faculty attitudes and example. We should take care not to acquiesce in, condone, or encourage alcohol-induced behavior that puts our students' future at risk.

Over the past couple of years, Penn's faculty, students, and administration have collaborated on a variety of programs that have raised awareness of the dangers of alcohol abuse and have promoted alternative social activities for students. We can all be proud of those efforts, which have gained national attention as models of collegiate practice.

In spite of that good work, additional strategies and mechanisms may be required. The faculty will join energetically with other members of our campus community in determining what those next steps should be. Specifically, Senate chair-elect Peter Conn is serving on the Provost's Working Group on Alcohol Abuse, which has already begun to meet, and will continue to meet intensively over the next few weeks. In addition, and in consultation with the Senate Executive Committee, the Senate Chairs will explore concrete steps the faculty might undertake to discourage alcohol abuse among students.

Penn enjoys well-earned prestige as one of the pre-eminent universities in the United States. All the members of this remarkable institution owe it to each other to behave with good judgment and mutual respect. Alcohol abuse has no place in the community we share.

Peter Conn, Chair-elect,

John C. Keene, Chair,

Vivian C. Seltzer, Past chair,

of the Faculty Senate

Almanac, Vol. 45, No. 27, April 6, 1999