April 29, 2008
SMU President Announces Decisions on Recommendations for Substance Abuse Prevention
DALLAS (SMU) — SMU President R. Gerald
Turner has accepted 36 of the 38 recommendations recently
made by the University’s Task Force on Substance Abuse
on programs, policies and issues related to
alcohol and drug use. Some recommendations have been
accepted partially or with modifications, limitations or
reservations; or will be considered with more study. Two
recommendations have not been accepted.
“As the Task Force has wisely stated,
no one policy or program alone can guarantee wise
decision-making on the part of students encountering new
freedoms at college or those entering with existing drug and
alcohol problems,” Turner said in his report. “It is our
hope, however, that the many recommendations we will
implement will strengthen a culture of personal
responsibility and academic achievement, a community in
which students make the best use of resources, programs and
In addition, Task Force recommendations were
made within the context of SMU’s changing academic profile.
“As the number of applications continues to grow, and the
average standardized test scores of our students continue to
improve, it is important that SMU continue to enhance its
ability to nurture the increasing intellectual strength of
our incoming students,” Turner said.
Under the accepted recommendations,
- Establish an ongoing President’s Commission on
Substance Abuse Prevention to monitor progress and
continually review programs and policies. To be in place for
the 2008-09 academic year, the Commission will include
representatives of numerous campus offices and
organizations, from Student Affairs and SMU Police to the
Office of the Provost and Campus Ministries.
Other recommendations fall into
specific topical areas, as follows:
Health and Medical Services
Two recommendations are accepted and
one requires further study. Under accepted
recommendations, SMU will:
- Expand hours of the campus Memorial Health
Center until 3:00 a.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday
evenings, to be staffed by a nurse with on-call physicians.
The Health Center also will research providers of a 24/7
medical and counseling call-line for possible use by SMU.
- Continue education efforts through existing
programs and expand training of students and staff in use of
these programs, but seek a replacement for one
vendor-provided on-line program, in consultation with
A recommendation that SMU improve
support services for recovering students will require
more study, Turner said, into the scope of need
and the availability of such services close to campus.
Student Affairs officials will form a group for this study
to report by December 31, 2008.
Five recommendations have been accepted
and two are accepted with limitations. Under accepted
recommendations, SMU will:
- Eliminate the Passive Participation Policy
from the Community Standards for Residence Life and Student
Housing, based on widespread input that the policy led to
citations of students not involved in alcohol violations and
discouraged safe practices such as use of designated
drivers. The change will be effective fall 2008. At the same
time, Residence Life staff must continue to work with
students to ensure compliance and responsible behavior with
regard to alcohol or drug use.
- Review Judicial procedures to be sure they are
clearly stated and implemented consistently. To be completed
by the end of the fall semester, this review will include
consideration of community service in lieu of fines.
A proposed Good Samaritan Policy and
Medical Amnesty Program have been accepted with
limitations. Under Good Samaritan, a student who seeks
emergency medical help for a fellow student will not face a
sanction if he or she also violated alcohol policy, but that
student will be required to participate in education
programs regarding alcohol or drugs. Under the Medical
Amnesty Program, the same will apply to a student who seeks
emergency help for him or herself. However, police agencies
will have the ability to cite or arrest individuals for
public intoxication and use of illegal drugs. The Office of
Student Affairs will develop procedures for implementing
Other accepted recommendations
under Enforcement are to:
- Form a group of campus officials and
representatives of the Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission to
meet with local bar owners to address issues of under-age
drinking and marketing activities that promote excessive
behavior. The vice president for Student Affairs will
establish this group by the start of fall semester 2008.
- Strengthen the partnership between SMU Police
and University Park Police; SMU and UP will share an officer
on the North Texas High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area
(HIDTA) Task Force, which consists of area police
departments and federal agencies to collect the latest
information on drug use, trafficking and trends affecting
- Establish a central resource for gathering and
acting upon reports of students exhibiting signs of
distress. Information from existing campus committees and
meetings on this topic will be consolidated in the Office of
the Dean of Student Life, and the SMU community will be
educated on the use of this resource.
All academic recommendations have been
accepted. Under these recommendations, SMU will:
- Call upon faculty to announce and utilize an
attendance policy, emphasizing the importance of attendance
in meeting academic expectations and enabling faculty to
take note of frequent or long absences, a potential sign of
- Increase the number of classes to be held on
Friday, to lengthen the academic work week.
- Provide mid-term grade reports during
students’ first two years of college and provide early
reports for first-year students.
- Limit the number of course drops that can be
taken during a student’s academic career. The Provost’s
Office will work with the faculty, deans and Registrar’s
Office to determine the maximum number, to be decided during
the 2008-09 academic year.
- Give final comprehensive assessments during
the designated exam period for every lower-division course.
The Provost’s Office and deans will work with academic
departments to implement this recommendation in courses
where an exam is appropriate.
- Revise course curricula to ensure that most
students spend at least two hours of outside work for every
hour spent in the classroom, if that is not already the
case. The Provost’s Office will work the deans, associate
deans, department chairs and faculty in helping to implement
“The objective of these recommendations
is to make the campus conducive to gathering with friends in
a safe environment,” Turner said, and to bring social and
academic life closer together. Of the recommendations,
four have been accepted; five have been accepted with
limitations, reservations, modifications or partially
accepted; and two have not been accepted.
Under the overall recommendation of
making the campus a center of activity, President Turner has
accepted with limitations a recommendation that the
Hughes-Trigg Student Center extend its hours and become a
true “student union.” Student Center hours will be extended
to midnight Sunday through Wednesday, and until 2 a.m. on
Thursday, Friday and Saturday, beginning December 2008. In
addition, expanded hours will be considered for the Dedman
Center for Lifetime Sports. However, given the presence of
administrative offices in Hughes-Trigg, making the Center a
true “student union” will depend upon finding other
locations for some of those offices. Once the spaces have
been identified, funding will be provided to student
organizations for expanded programming.
Other accepted recommendations
under Social Life are to:
- Include campus ministries and faith-based
organizations in expanded activity on campus.
- Establish and maintain a Web-based calendar
posting all student events on campus, and establish a task
force under the vice president for Student Affairs to
recommend ways to encourage student participation.
- Emphasize the use of venues such as Meadows,
Dedman Center, Ford Stadium and the Boulevard for late-night
events on weekends.
- Encourage all student organizations to sponsor
more late-night, on-campus events on weekends.
- Make all events associated with recruitment
into Greek organizations (“rush” as well as “pledge period”)
alcohol-free, including off-campus events on weekends.
- Gain agreement from Greek leaders to
discourage all organized parties, including the use of
buses, on school nights. All organized campus parties should
be registered with the Dean of Student Life Office.
Accepted with modifications is a
recommendation that SMU establish in or near Hughes-Trigg a
game/recreation room available until late at night. Turner
noted that a previous game room was under-used, and
additional space in Hughes-Trigg might be better used to
visit, relax, or watch television. The game room proposal
will have to be evaluated carefully.
Accepted with limitations is a
recommendation to increase lighting on campus. To evaluate
this need, SMU will reinstate its annual “lighting walk”
across campus for student leaders and campus officials to
review lighting and safety precautions and identify specific
areas of concern.
Partially accepted is the
recommendation that the University reconsider the timing of
Greek recruitment activities, a topic evaluated by a recent
Ad Hoc Committee, which recommended keeping rush to the time
period between the end of the fall semester and the start of
the spring term. Noting the advantage of having rush during
a time when no classes are offered, Turner rejected a
reconsideration of this topic. However, he does call for
examining “the components of the recruitment process that
may affect a students’ academic performance,” such as length
of the pledge period, dangers of possible hazing, rules of
contact, and grade averages required for membership. He
echoed the sentiment of the Task Force that fraternities and
sororities “emphasize their historical roots of service,
philanthropy, scholarship, leadership and personal
Accepted with reservations is a
recommendation that funding be provided for informal dinners
and other social occasions for faculty and student
interactions. The provost and vice president for Student
Affairs will create a task force to review ways to implement
Two social life recommendations are
- SMU will not permit organizations to sponsor
parties and to serve beer on campus to those of drinking
age. “A substantial number of the national boards of Greek
organizations do not permit open parties in their houses
where alcohol is present,” Turner noted. “The University
should encourage the remaining national organizations to
adopt similar practices.” However, SMU will create a Social
Event Registration Process for all social organizations to
register their events, allowing these groups to be updated
as to liability risk, University polices and guidelines of
their national organizations. He is appointing the vice
president for Student Affairs to form a task force to
develop the necessary procedures.
- SMU also will not establish a pub on campus.
“Although the stated motivation for creating a pub has
several positive components to it, the advantages do not
overcome the disadvantages,” Turner said. He noted that
campuses with successful pubs have a higher number of
students age 21 and over, and the majority of SMU students
living on campus are first-year, underage students. Because
most upper-division students live off campus, they would be
driving home after being served at the pub, increasing the
risk of impaired driving.
All five recommendations have been
accepted. SMU will:
- Gather and assess all its materials with
information on substance abuse education regulations and
resources to create one coherent handbook for the entire
- Develop a communications plan to enable all
members of the campus to hear the same information on
substance abuse issues and remind them about regulations and
resources. This will begin with student consultations on
venues and messages that have credibility with them and also
will include information for parents, faculty, staff and
- Clarify regulations under the Family
Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) as they would
apply to communication between SMU and parents regarding
their students’ drug or alcohol problems. FERPA waivers can
now be completed on-line, and a new Web site will include a
tutorial for faculty and staff. The FERPA Web site also will
be promoted to all constituencies.
- Avoid the use of images that seemingly promote
alcohol use in communications and products. The SMU
Bookstore has changed its displays of items related to
alcohol use, and efforts will be undertaken to have the
student media review its policies regarding alcohol
A final communication recommendation
calls for President Turner and members of the upper
administration to remain involved in substance abuse
prevention efforts through communications with parents,
faculty, staff, students and alumni.
In accepting the recommendation,
Turner said, “All University executives, including the
president, vice presidents, and deans, are expected to
support responsible behavior of our students as they
continue to accentuate the academic expectations and quality
of the institution,” In addition, Turner will work with the
Commission on Substance Abuse Prevention to provide an
annual report on efforts to promote responsible behavior and
publicly address substance abuse issues.
Parent Partnership Recommendations
Two of the three recommendations under
parent partnerships have been accepted, and one will
require further evaluation. SMU has accepted
- Encourage students and parents to discuss FERPA and HIPPA and the advantages of signing waivers. FERPA
forms will be provided to parents during check-in, and HIPPA
forms and FAQ sheets will be distributed during Health
Center check-in at AARO (academic orientation). All AARO
sessions will now be recorded to be available on i-tunes.
- Set aside time during AARO for parents and
students to discuss together substance abuse issues and
regulations. A special session will be added for this
purpose, and information on the parents’ Web site will
continue to encourage discussions.
SMU will continue to evaluate a
recommendation that the University work with parents to
identify students entering SMU with substance abuse
problems, in order to begin counseling and recovery efforts.
“It is unlikely that SMU would knowingly admit students with
well-established problems with drugs and alcohol,” Turner
said. However, he will ask the vice president for Student
Affairs and the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Office to
evaluate further this recommendation.
“I wish to thank members of the Task
Force; the faculty, staff and students who contributed to
deliberation of these issues, and all those who in the
future will make a positive impact on a student’s decision
to live responsibly and fully benefit from this learning
community,” Turner said.
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