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Parents take a stand against high-risk drinking

With their two sons attending Lehigh--James, a senior political science major, and David, a sophomore majoring in journalism-- Michelle and Jim Duane take the problem of high-risk drinking on college campuses very seriously.

"The problem of abusive drinking cannot be solved without a systemic approach that includes education, alternative programming, and student participation," says Jim Duane '73, a member of Lehigh's Board of Trustees and Parents' Committee.

To help Lehigh combat this health and safety issue, the Duanes are working with Lehigh's Parents' Committee to raise $60,000 every year for "A Matter of Degree" (AMOD), a program to combat binge drinking through education, prevention, and enhanced social programming.

AMOD is the extension of a previous program to combat binge drinking--Project IMPACT. In 1996, Lehigh became one of only six universities nationwide that were selected by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to receive a five-year grant to build a campus community coalition to address abusive drinking and its consequences on other students and the community.

Lehigh received a four-year grant renewal from the RWJF in September 2001 to continue its Project IMPACT work as the newly named AMOD program. As part of the grant's matching fund requirements, Lehigh needs to raise $60,000 yearly to help supplement the grant.

Parents as partners

To assist with the fundraising efforts, Lehigh called on the Lehigh's Parents' Committee, and the parents were eager to step forward and help.

"Having a safe social environment for their college student is something that every parent wants," says Kirk Colton '78G, '02P, director of the Parents' Committee. "Parents offer real world value to their children's education, and support of the AMOD program is just one example of that."

Maddy Eadline, director of the Office of Special Projects, says, "Our philosophy has always been that parents are our partners in this process. This collaborative effort has helped us to build a successful program that is getting results."

And thanks in part to these parents, AMOD is indeed getting results. According to the 2003 College Alcohol Study (CAS) conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, the ability of underage Lehigh students to get alcohol without showing an ID at off-campus bars and clubs has dropped 28.5% in six years. Students reported a 14.0% decrease in doing something they regretted while drinking; a 10.7% drop in getting behind in school work; a 10.3% drop in missing a class; a 8.9% drop in forgetting where they were or what they did; and a 5% drop in getting hurt or injured.

Lehigh also saw a decrease in the negative second-hand effects on others by students who had been drinking. Students reported a 12.6% drop in experiencing an unwanted sexual advance; a 10.8% decrease in being insulted or humiliated; a 7.1% decrease in having their studying or sleep interrupted; a 5% decline in "babysitting" a drunken student; and a 4.2% drop in being pushed, hit or assaulted.

"Results like these illustrate the importance of giving to the AMOD program,"says Duane. "While we cannot completely eradicate this long-standing problem, Lehigh has taken steps to lower the risks related to high risk drinking."

Making positive changes

The AMOD program continues its work through community initiatives that include:

• Sponsoring non-alcoholic activities and events
• Providing "Responsible Alcohol Management" training for alcohol distributors, managers, and servers
• Improving cooperation between city and campus police and increasing community policing efforts
• Creating Lehighlive, a student activity web site
• Increasing substance-free housing
• Providing information regarding alcohol use during freshman orientation
• Providing resources for sexual violence prevention by securing a Dorothy Rider Pool Health Trust grant


"The ongoing commitment from the Parents' Committee has been remarkable," says Eadline. "Because of their support we have been able to make positive changes regarding student life at Lehigh."

To make a donation to the A Matter of Degree program, or to get involved in the Parents' Committee, contact Kirk Colton '78G, '02P, director of the Parents' Committee at (610) 758-5142 or (800) 523-0565. Colton also can be reached by e-mail.

--Sarah Suh

Posted on Friday, March 12, 2004

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