Task Force Evolves into Permanent
on Substance Abuse Prevention
SMU is committed to providing its students with an educational environment in which healthy lifestyle choices can be made. Toward this end, for several years the University has had in place numerous programs, policies and resources aimed at substance abuse education and prevention.
The president has appointed the Commission on Substance Abuse Prevention, an outgrowth of the Task Force on Substance Abuse Prevention, as a permanent, ongoing organization to implement and evaluate the task force's recommendations. The Commission's role is to report annually to the president on the status of the recommendations and to identify new or emerging issues of concern.
In spring 2007, in response to the tragedy of three student deaths in the 2006-07 academic year related to substance abuse, SMU’s President appointed a Task Force on Substance Abuse Prevention to spend several months reviewing existing programs and policies, with the goal of enhancing and updating them.
SMU has adopted more than 30 of the recommendations, and SMU’s programs are now monitored by the permanent University Commission on Substance Abuse Prevention. In addition, SMU offers such resources as educational programs and counseling for students coping with eating disorders, sexual assault and depression.
Examples of new initiatives resulting from the Task Force on Substance Abuse Prevention:
Health and Medical Services
- SMU’s Center for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention has expanded training of students and staff and established a student-led AA meeting.
- Memorial Health Center has expanded hours for medical services on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings during fall and spring terms. The center provides a 24-hour medical and mental health line.
- A medical amnesty program was established to encourage students to call for emergency help for themselves or friends due to substance abuse, without being subject to the disciplinary process. To receive amnesty, students agree to be evaluated at the Center for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention.
- SMU is working with area bar owners on steps they can take to help prevent under-age drinking. One nearby Dallas bar has installed a fake ID scanner, and three others are considering it.
- “A Caring Community Connections” online program has been established for faculty and staff to register concerns about students who may be in distress, for follow-up by the Office of Student Life; there have been 185 submissions to date.
- SMU is collaborating with University Park Police to share a police officer on the North Texas High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force, which consists of area police departments and federal agencies that collect information on drug use, trafficking and trends affecting this region.
- A first offense for a substance-abuse or alcohol violation will result in prompt parental notification. Previously, parental notification typically occurred only after a student was placed on disciplinary probation for an alcohol or substance-abuse violation.
- SMU also operates an anonymous tips line: 214-768-2TIP
Several academic recommendations are intended to strengthen academic rigor.
- SMU now schedules more classes on Friday to extend the week of classroom work.
- More faculty now monitor class attendance.
- Also being evaluated are new policies on dropping classes and providing earlier grade reports during a semester.
Several actions have been taken to increase student activity on campus as the center for social life:
- A web-based calendar of student activities helps to promote events.
- Hughes-Trigg Student Center hours have been extended, and two staff members have been added to supervise late-night hours.
- During the 2008-09 school year, Hughes-Trigg hosted 328 events with a total of 16,522 participants.
- The M Lounge opened in Hughes-Trigg for students to play video games, watch TV or movies, and relax.
- Giddy-Up campus ride service was extended to seven nights a week from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m.
- The “Live Responsibly” web site provides a summary of services, resources, programs and policies with regard to substance abuse prevention.
- Articles reminding students, parents and alumni about substance abuse prevention resources are included in every communications piece going to those audiences.
- Orientation includes updated programs on substance abuse for both new students and their parents.
- Other orientation programs and a web site are educating parents and students about the need for students to authorize release of educational records to their parents by signing FERPA release forms. In 2008, 82.6% of first-year students granted permission. This enables SMU to speak with parents about their students’ behavior or academic problems and to partner with parents on solutions.
If you are the victim of a crime or see something suspicious, contact the police:
• Call 911 from a campus phone
• Call 214-768-3333 from a cell
phone (note: calling 911 on a
cell phone on campus will
connect you with surrounding
stations but not SMU
• Pick up a blue-light campus
• If you are off campus, call 911
to reach police in your area or
214-768-3333 to reach SMU
anonymously to SMU's
Silent Witness Program by
calling 214-SMU-2TIP or
SMU urges anyone who has experienced sexual assault to obtain medical care and alert police as soon as it is safe to do so . . .
Campus officials, police and counselors can help, including with pursuing criminal and internal grievance options . . .
Students who seek medical assistance for themselves or another due to intoxication of alcohol and/or drugs . . .
Trying to quit? You're not alone. If you’re ready to take back your life, SMU programs offer free and confidential help. . .
Faculty and staff can provide students with appropriate information, support and advice for success.
Click here to submit a report.
SMU is part of a team researching new and innovative ways to fight binge
drinking . . .