The Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Task Force (AODATF) was created last fall to make recommendations on possible preventative measures for alcohol and drug related incidents.
The management group will be making its recommendations this October to University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Al Thompson who co-heads AODTF along with Stevens Point Mayor Andrew Halverson.
Freshmen at UWSP are currently required to take a free online class called “Alcohol-Wise.” The aim of this class is to educate individuals on safe drinking strategies and to prevent negative incidents involving alcohol.
“We are not anti-fun or anti-alcohol,” said Thompson. “It’s more the intensity of the drinking and how often.”
Thompson said that more education is needed around campus, with AODATF programs in the residence halls and during orientation as being possible solutions.
“It’s really to educate students on being safe, how to enjoy yourself and knowing your limits,” said Thompson.
UWSP students currently have to pay a $90 fine for their first drug or alcohol related infraction on campus. This money funds a Personal Alcohol Control through Exploration (PACE) class that the student must attend, which outlines the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse.
Senior Peter Munck, a History and Broadfield Social Science major, disagrees with the fine but believes there should be more education.
“This would discourage people from attaining help when they or someone else needs it. You are already getting in trouble with police, parents, and getting hospital fees if people went to the hospital. Why add another fine? I think in some ways an additional fine would make it worse,” said Munck. “I mean, can’t we just educate people?”
Thompson said that it’s not just the individuals using drugs or alcohol that are affected, but also other students around campus and in the community.
“We want to get students away from peer pressure,” said Thompson. “It can disrupt the roommate, their sleep and then their academics.”
Kacie Otto, who graduated from UWSP last May with an English degree, worked as a community advisor in the dormitories and found that student parties on campus can disrupt students who are not participating.
“I understand that it’s part of the college experience for a lot of students,” said Otto. “But there has to be a way for the social aspects of college and the academic parts to meet somehow.”
Senior Rebecca Wood, a Psychology major, believes that the current drug and alcohol education and rules on campus are as far as UWSP can go.
“These are lifestyles that we obviously don’t want on campus,” said Wood. “But if you’re going to be stupid, you’re going to be stupid. It’s part of the college culture.”
Tavern owners and other business and community leaders in Stevens Point are also part of AODATF, offering insight and possible strategies as to how to prevent drug and alcohol incidents around town.
“You should be able to drink responsibly, at the legal age, and with a designated driver or a designated watcher,” said Thompson. “Fun is part of the college experience, it just has to be safe. Student safety is number one.”