Campus News

University Council mulls substance education program for freshmen

The University Council will likely consider requiring first-year students to complete a mandatory substance abuse education program by the end of their first semester.

A proposal for such a program will probably come before the council at its April 25 meeting with a goal of having the program in place for fall semester, said Peter Shedd, a member of the council’s Student Affairs Committee.

At the Feb. 9 meeting, council members heard a presentation on alcohol and drug use by college students from Carole Middlebrooks, director of the state office of substance abuse in higher education.

Middlebrooks spoke at the invitation of the council’s Student Affairs Committee, which has been exploring a mandatory program since last fall.

Middlebrooks said college students spend $5.5 billion annually on alcohol and 95 percent of violent incidents involving college students, such as accidents and assaults, are linked to alcohol and drug use.

In 2003, 1,400 students died as a result of substance-related incidents, she said.

In a 2004 survey, 60.6 percent of UGA students reported they were guilty of “binge drinking,” compared to 48.5 percent nationally, Middlebrooks said. About 53 percent of UGA students reported missing classes and 33 percent admitted performing poorly on tests because of drug and alcohol use.

Middlebrooks said college students are “bombarded” and “enticed” to use alcohol and drugs by advertising, peer pressure and their new-found freedom, and are vulnerable because they believe “I’m too young and too smart. It can’t happen to me.”

She said “comprehensive education,” stronger enforcement of existing laws and more involvement by faculty and staff will help curb student substance abuse but warned that “education alone will not change behavior. If you want to change behavior, you have to change the environment.”

Earlier in the day, in a media briefing, university President Michael F. Adams addressed substance abuse by UGA students. He called for early intervention to help students dealing with substance problems, stronger enforcement of rules and laws and more efforts to increase awareness of the dangers of alcohol and drug use. He said the university is looking at possible education programs to be implemented this fall.

The University Council also approved a policy requiring that a majority of members of search committees for deans be tenured or tenure-track faculty, but allowing schools and colleges to include non-tenured faculty on committees.

Under the policy each of the university’s 15 schools and colleges will develop its own procedure for nominating faculty to dean search committees. Nominees must be chosen “through an open process that ensures the consideration of any interested faculty member.” The provost will appoint committees using the list of nominees provided by the school or college.

The council adopted the policy despite objections from the College of Pharmacy and the College of Veterinary Medicine that it could exclude large numbers of faculty in those colleges who have “clinical” status or work in research or public service roles but are not tenured or tenure-track.

The approval came on a reconsideration of the policy, which was first presented to the council in December, but sent back to committee due to concerns about excluding non-tenured and tenure-track faculty.

David Shipley, chair of the Faculty Affairs Committee, which developed the proposal, and Arnett Mace, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, noted the policy specifically allows for inclusion of “all faculty” on lists of nominees-a requirement that would include non-tenured/tenure-track faculty.

The policy also requires that search committees include at least one university staff member and one student.

The council also approved requests to change the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies to the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Institute, and to offer a bachelor of arts degree in Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

The council approved on first reading a proposed revision of the University Statutes article governing the university president’s veto powers over council decisions.