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College and University Presidents

Key Issues:
The Center for College Health and Safety's Presidents Leadership Group

Recommendations from College and University Presidents

College and university presidents have a unique responsibility to create an environment that nurtures students’ intellectual and social development. They are charged with fostering a safe and healthy climate within which students can learn, study, work, and grow. As student alcohol and other drug (AOD) use is increasingly recognized as interfering with a positive learning environment, many presidents understand that they must proactively confront high-risk drinking and alcohol- and drug-related problems on campus in order to fulfill their responsibility.  

As one of the most serious issues faced by higher education officials today, high-risk AOD use cannot be ignored. AOD related tragedies at colleges and universities have reached the national spotlight, drawing attention and concern for student safety. Increasingly, parents are starting to exert pressure on college administrators to create healthier and safer environments for their students. New case law has increasingly held colleges and universities liable for alcohol-related tragedies among students, with out of court settlements reaching $6 million.

Now is a critical time for college and university presidents to step forward and directly address high-risk drinking and AOD related problems. While many top administrators cite frustration at the intractability of the problem, lack of time or resources, and fear of student and alumni backlash, the extent of these challenges is often misperceived. An increasing number of presidents have developed and implemented strategies that work to overcome them. This section spotlights what presidents can do to effectively address the problem and highlights several presidents who have made a difference.

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