The following report from the Alcohol Policy Coordinator is on the agenda for the September 13 University Council Meeting.

1999-2000 Alcohol Progress Report Year 1

Five Goals of the Working Group on Alcohol Abuse

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The Working Group on Alcohol Abuse (WGAA), under the leadership of Provost Robert Barchi, met extensively throughout the spring of 1999 to develop recommendations that would result in a safer, healthier social atmosphere for Penn students. The WGAA, guided by fifteen students and seven faculty and staff members, focused on five major goals, resulting in a set of 45 recommendations. The recommendations were presented to and accepted by President Judith Rodin at the end of spring semester, 1999.

The five major goals recommended by the WGAA were:

The overall goal of the WGAA recommendations is to ensure a cultural change at Penn that promotes a safer environment for students. To this end, the recommendations are structured to dispel the myth of a cultural "rite of passage" involving alcohol. The University is committed to modifying, strengthening, and creating policies, programs and procedures that ensure healthy student behaviors. Through these efforts, the University recognizes a collective responsibility to work toward cultural and environmental change, not simply a singular focus on individual behaviors. As a result of this comprehensive approach, in July 2000, the U.S. Department of Education honored the University with a grant award as a National Model Prevention Program. The following is a progress report of the first-year implementation of the WGAA recommendations.

 Increase and Improve Alcohol Education

Health education is a crucial part of a successful strategy to prevent high-risk alcohol and other drug abuse. Education eradicates misperceptions about substance use by peers, creates opportunities for open, honest dialogue, and is critical to creating a change in campus culture.

Expanded efforts are underway to implement creative approaches to University-wide alcohol education. Almost all primary-prevention objectives under this category have been accomplished or are currently underway. (Primary refers to those efforts that are designed to reach individuals/groups before they engage in "at-risk" behaviors. Secondary refers to those efforts that are designed to reach individuals/groups after they have engaged in "at-risk" behaviors, but before a pattern of harmful usage has developed.)

  • In August 1999, all first-year and transfer students received an Alcohol 101 CD-Rom prior to their arrival at Penn. Parents of first-year students received a brochure entitled, "Parents, You're Not Done Yet," which addressed how parents can continue to talk with their students about alcohol issues. All Penn students received a copy of the new University alcohol policy and a letter from the Vice Provost for University Life detailing new campus initiatives and misperceptions about college drinking. This project was repeated in July 2000.
  • A new social marketing campaign was designed in fall 1999 and implemented in spring 2000 through a collaboration between the University's Alcohol Policy Coordinator, the peer education Drug and Alcohol Resource Team (DART), and the Undergraduate Assembly Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention Committee. This campaign disseminated two fact-based messages, "The majority (74%) of Penn students drink once a week or less" and "67% of Penn students have 4 or fewer drinks when they party." The campaign was distributed throughout the campus via posters and weekly advertisements in the Daily Pennsylvanian (14,000 daily readers).
  • Data to build the social marketing campaign were collected in February 2000 via an online survey. Of the undergraduates targeted, 3,504 (38% response rate) completed the survey, providing a wealth of information to help identify the most high-risk areas of need within student populations.
  • A National Issues Forum was conducted in April 2000 to provide a campus-wide "speak out" opportunity for students to relate their perceptions of and experience with alcohol abuse at Penn. The forum was co-sponsored by the Office of Health Education, Sigma Chi Fraternity and DART. Forum participants discussed the effect alcohol has on University life, identified areas of greatest concern, and reviewed how they could best address those concerns.
  • Penn 101 was established as a freshman seminar in fall 1999. Alcohol topics covered in the course include, "Alcohol and Drugs in Identity Formation," a review of the Harvard College Alcohol Study data and its effect on the national conversation about college alcohol use, as well as effective strategies for preventing and intervening in substance abuse behaviors.
  • Through a collaborative effort with community landlords, the Center for Off-Campus Living, the Undergraduate Assembly and the Office of Health Education, a brochure has been developed and will be distributed this fall to 1,000 student households in West Philadelphia. The brochure provides guidance on being a good neighbor, alcohol information, and a contact list for local resources.
  • The DART peer program continues to present alcohol education programs to students living in College Houses and social fraternities and sororities. Twelve presentations to College Houses and 21 workshops for new Greek members were conducted during the 1999-2000 academic year.
  • The major secondary-prevention objective was to enhance the First Step Alcohol Education Program to include a skills component. This class, offered to first time violators of the alcohol policy, was increased from two hours to four hours to allow for the expanded curriculum. Significant areas of focus in the new First Step class, which enrolled 95 students during '99-'00 (92 in '98-'99), include normative information (correcting misperceptions through discussion of true campus alcohol and drug use data) and a skill building component, which teaches techniques to reduce risk when drinking.
  • One challenge in this category that is still being explored is the "HealthLinks" program, which was designed to enhance the collaborative efforts of the Office of Health Education and College Houses and Academic Services (CHAS). This program has not been implemented yet and an assessment should be conducted to determine whether it should be pursued for the academic year 2000-2001.
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 Ensure a Supportive Environment

In order to inspire cultural change that will help reduce high-risk alcohol use, students must feel that they are supported by the University, encouraged to take responsible actions, and understood to be critical stakeholders in the consultative process. The four recommendations under this goal of ensuring a supportive environment have been accomplished.

  1. The alcohol policy was amended to state that students seeking medical attention, for themselves or their friends, for intoxication or alcohol related injuries shall not be subject to disciplinary action for the sole violation of using or possessing alcohol or other drugs. It is difficult to determine the exact number of Penn students who visit an emergency room for alcohol related injuries and illnesses. While data is collected on those students reporting to the Hospital of the University of Pennyslvania ER for alcohol related issues, some students may visit other area hospitals. Additionally, it is a challenge to determine if alcohol is the underlying cause of some injuries. Some students may report to the ER with an injury that is directly related to their alcohol use, but they do not disclose this information. Other injuries may be classified as alcohol related because the patient had been consuming alcohol even if the connection of alcohol to the situation is questionable. Increased efforts are underway to standardize the reporting of alcohol related ER visits.
  2. The position of Alcohol Policy Coordinator was filled in August 1999 and the Alcohol Rapid Response Team (ARRT), the Provost's standing advisory board on policy issues, has met regularly throughout the '99-'00 academic year. It will continue to meet, under the leadership of the Provost, during the '00-'01 academic year.
  3. The role of faculty and staff is continually being reevaluated to ensure that the student/faculty/staff relationship is strengthened with regard to adjudication of alcohol and other drug issues.
  4. As a support to the Alcohol Rapid Response Team, the Alcohol and Other Drug Task Force, a standing committee for over 14 years, has continued its work, serving as a broad based advisory board on all substance use and abuse issues. This committee includes representatives from all facets of the University, including Public Safety, Off-Campus Living, the faculty, CHAS, Health Education, Fraternity and Sorority Affairs, Student Life, and the Office of Student Conduct. Students on the committee represent the Inter Fraternity Council and Pan Hellenic, Honor Council, athletics, the Undergraduate Assembly, and the peer education Drug and Alcohol Resource Team. The Task Force is considering expanding its membership to invite West Philadelphia community representatives and local business owners.
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Increase Individual and Group Responsibility and Accountability

This goal recognizes the significant responsibility of groups and individuals to reduce alcohol abuse and restrict underage students' access to alcohol. The University has worked toward fair and consistent enforcement in each case of policy violations.

  • As previously stated, students cited for first-time policy violations are mandated to complete a four-hour alcohol education and skills training course offered by the Office of Health Education. Approximately 95 students were referred to this program during 1999-2000, as compared to 106 referrals in '98-'99 and 45 students referred in '97-'98. Second-time policy violators are referred to Counseling and Psychological Services for individual intensive counseling sessions.
  • All undergraduate student organizations sponsoring alcohol-related events must register the event one week in advance with the Alcohol Policy Coordinator. In'99-'00, 114 events were registered on campus and 93 events held at off-campus third-party vendor sites were registered. In '98-'99, 150 events were registered on-campus and 50 events were held at off-campus establishments.
  • The most significant challenge of this goal has been sanctioning student organizations that fail to register their events. Most Greek student organizations have been registering their events, and for those that do not, policies exist to sanction the organization. However, there are no measures currently in place to sanction non-Greek organizations violating the policy. This has been an ongoing concern and certainly is not unique to this academic year or the change in the alcohol policy. This is an issue that warrants a close look in the next academic year.
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Minimizing Risk

The objectives under this goal to minimize risk reflect the community's desire to ensure a safer environment when alcohol is present at social events. All recommendations in this category have been successfully implemented with the exception of the BYOB system.

  • The University has hired and trained sixty-five alcohol monitors who work collaboratively with the student organization hosts to reduce alcohol-related risks at on-campus events. Hard alcohol and kegs have been prohibited at registered on-campus undergraduate events. Limiting the quantity and type of alcohol allowed at registered events has allowed for greater oversight of the amount of alcohol served by bartenders and restricts the amount consumed by students at these events. Serving beer from cans or bottles ensures that the amount of alcohol consumed can be more closely calculated. Students are less likely to unintentionally consume unknown quantities of alcohol or unknown types of alcohol when these restrictions are in place. Alcohol distribution has ended at or by 1 a.m. at registered events.
  • Ten University approved bartenders have been trained with respect to the alcohol policy. University-approved bartenders have staffed approximately twenty-five percent of all on-campus events. The $25/hour fee has been cited as one deterrent against using more University-approved bartenders. The ARRT is currently discussing ways to encourage undergraduate student organizations to use approved bartenders more often. Sober hosts have been appointed by each organization for each event. The policy states that organizations must allot one sober host for every 50 guests. However, monitors report that it is often a challenge to find more than one host to assist in correcting policy violations that occur.
  • As mentioned, implementation of the BYOB system has been the greatest challenge. Of-age students attending parties have not supplied their own alcohol and party hosts have continued to provide alcohol for guests. However, the ultimate goal of the BYOB mandate has been to decrease the quantity of alcohol at a party. This seems to have been accomplished through the combination of using trained bartenders and some organizations voluntarily limiting the amount of alcohol available to guests. Discussions are continuing to determine a feasible policy mandate to limit the quantity of alcohol provided at on-campus registered events.
  • There is a University commitment to consolidate and standardize the reporting of campus data reflecting changes in alcohol behaviors and incidents. A long-term evaluation plan has been developed to ensure this data collection process. Currently, the University is using 1999-2000 data as baseline for future comparisons.
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Expanded Social Options

In order to help shape a new campus culture, Penn students must lead the way and work closely with University faculty and staff to help create more varied social options. These options are not, and should not be seen as, "alternatives" to drinking, but rather as intrinsically appealing options for socializing. To achieve this goal, late night, weekend and Thursday night activities have been expanded considerably to offer non-alcoholic social programs during traditional drinking times (10 p.m.-2 a.m.).

  • The Office of Student Life, in conjunction with Tangible Change and numerous other student organizations, continued to provide social activities, such as movies, speakers, concerts, neighborhood festivals, pancake breakfasts, carnivals, etc. The 58 events reported over 50,000 attendees.
  • CHAS continues its Penn PM program, providing Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday social events reaching between 2,500-3,000 students each semester.
  • The Foundation launched its current series of musical showcases, poetry readings, hip-hop concerts and open microphone performances.
  • Gimbel Gym extended the Thursday night hours until 2 a.m. for basketball, table tennis and other recreational activities. Approximately 400 students each semester attended the late night recreational activities at Gimbel Gym.
  • There has been a marked increase in advertising for all non-alcoholic social events, including the "Free Tonight?" series published weekly in the Daily Pennsylvanian and disseminated across campus via colorful flyers.
  • The Penn & Philly website includes a wide variety of social options for Penn students, featuring activities in West Philadelphia.
  • The Penn web calendar also has been expanded and heavily marketed to be used as a central site for Penn academic, cultural, athletic and social events.


The most important step the University is taking at this time is in continuing to move toward an Environmental Management Model for alcohol and other drug prevention and education. Specifically, an Environmental Management Model seeks to mobilize all areas of the University community to reduce high-risk environments in which alcohol is provided and consumed. To do so means recognizing that faculty, staff, parents, community members, public safety, and bar and restaurant owners all have a responsibility to correct misperceptions about college drinking, eliminate environments where high-risk drinking is expected and allowed, and work to enforce all policies and laws. As an example, the graduate student leadership groups (GAPSA, GSAC, Wharton Graduate Association) have become partners in these efforts, shaping their events to serve as role models for low-risk alcohol use, controlled access to alcohol, and responsible alcohol service.

Data collection efforts have become more consistent and refined, which is absolutely necessary to determine change in a variety of university settings. The University should maintain a determined focus on new, improved, and continuous data collection opportunities.

As the BYOB initiative has not contributed to the overall goals of the alcohol policy, the University is currently exploring ways to limit the amount of alcohol provided at on-campus events in order to ensure lower-risk to students. The recommended changes to the Alcohol Policy (see For Comment, in this issue) concern on-campus events.

This policy change is being developed, in collaboration with students, faculty and staff, with a full recognition that the University's desire is to ensure a vibrant, safe on-campus social life and reduce the risk of harm to students. The entire policy will continue to be reviewed and modified, as needed, in collaboration with campus partners. These revisions will focus on exploring new ways to foster an environment that values the health and welfare of its students and to exemplify a university community that accepts collective responsibility to ensure cultural and environmental change concerning alcohol use and abuse.

Lastly, increased efforts should be made to engage new partners in alcohol and other drug prevention efforts. As the University has been moving onto the national scene with its innovative model alcohol and other drug prevention programming, the collaborations between students, staff, and faculty can be enhanced with the fostering of proactive relationships with allies such as parents, community associations, medical personnel, and bar and restaurant owners.

--Stephanie Ives, Alcohol Policy Coordinator

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Almanac, Vol. 47, No. 3, September 12, 2000