Alcohol solution?

Clamping down on campus drinking just drives it underground. Can a college/community collaboration work?

By Mary Boone

Puget Sound has initiated a combined campus/community effort to address the issues of alcohol abuse and underage drinking.

The collaboration came as a result of President Susan Resnick Pierce’s involvement in the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcohol-ism’s committee of college and university presidents.

Last fall Pierce sat down with Dean of Students Kristine Bartanen, Counseling Psychologist Charee Boulter and Assistant Professor Katherine Wadsworth to begin assessing Puget Sound’s alcohol prevention and education efforts.

"We think we’ve been doing a good job," says Boulter. "But there’s a growing awareness nationwide that university programs alone are not the most effective way to handle this sort of problem. There are too many examples out there of schools that have cleaned up drinking problems on campus, but then the problems move into the community.

"That’s why we’re interested in working with the Tacoma community–not just the neighborhood around the University, but the whole Tacoma community–to see how we can team up to address the issues," Boulter says.

The Tacoma task force began meeting in February. In addition to Puget Sound members, the task force includes representatives from the University of Washington-Tacoma, Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma Community College, Bates Technical College, Pierce College, the Tacoma school district, the Tacoma police, the Liquor Control Board and Pierce County Hospitality Alliance.

"Alcohol abuse is a very broad issue," says Boulter. "We’re still at a point where we’re trying to narrow the group’s focus, determine if there’s a way all these different entities can collaborate and then set some specific goals.

"We have lots of work to do, but I think participants overall feel this is a very worthwhile endeavor."

The Tacoma task force began meeting in February. In addition to Puget Sound members, the task force includes representatives from the University of Washington-Tacoma, Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma Community College, Bates Technical College, Pierce College, the Tacoma school district, the Tacoma police, the Liquor Control Board and Pierce County Hospitality Alliance.

"Alcohol abuse is a very broad issue," says Boulter. "We’re still at a point where we’re trying to narrow the group’s focus, determine if there’s a way all these different entities can collaborate and then set some specific goals.

"We have lots of work to do, but I think participants overall feel this is a very worthwhile endeavor."