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OWU Town Meeting Addresses Alcohol Problems

December 6, 2000

DELAWARE, OHIO -- Ohio Wesleyan University is holding a Town Meeting to discuss alcohol use on campus and brainstorm solutions to alcohol-related problems. The meeting will be held at 3 p.m., Friday, Dec. 8, in the Atrium of the Hamilton Williams Campus Center, during the weekly Tea and Trumpets gathering. A panel composed of OWU students and staff will respond to questions that have been prepared in advance by Terry Koons, Residence Life Coordinator, Marsha Tilden, director of Student Health Services and Deborah Lamp, director of Student Activities. At the end, students will have the opportunity to ask additional questions.

According to Koons, the organizer of the event, the idea behind the meeting involves using education to alter behavior -- when students perceive that everyone is drinking, they will tend to drink. "People aren't drinking as much as you think," he said.

Koons explained that students tend to exaggerate how much they drink, which amplifies the problem. "The main theme [of the Town Meeting] will focus on making students realize that the smallest number of students on campus are doing the most amount of drinking."

Although the actual percentage of students who are high-risk drinkers may be low, the negative effects of this conduct are weathered by the entire community. Beyond recognition of the problem, Koons hopes the meeting will answer the question, "What can we do as a community to curb the problem of alcohol and violence?"

Lamp, who will be moderator of the discussion, said through the program, she expects to learn whether is it believed high-risk drinking leads to property damage, self-harm and campus violence and if so, what are some possible solutions.

"What other options do people have on campus?" Lamp said. "I think a lot of different campus groups have tried to plan alcohol-free activities."

Tilden will be on the panel answering questions. She said, "We want to talk about the social norming campaign. Not everyone is drinking and I hope we can get that message out."

Tilden refers to the "You are the Community at OWU" social norming campaign organized by Koons that promotes accurate statistical representations of how many students are drinking on campus. Koons said the campaign combined with the Town Meeting should raise awareness, and step in the direction of solving problems associated with drinking. "Every little step you make is good," said Koons.

Other panel members include Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Council presidents; John Delaney, dean of students; Mark Zeno, coordinator of Greek Life; Peer Health Educators; RA's, and representatives from Counseling Services and Public Safety.

Koons said the meeting will take the form of a discussion, not just a lecture. "The conversation will be about asking what our responsibility is. Not just about 'drinking is bad.'"

The Town Meeting is supported by an organization called The Network. The Network is a national group that is committed to the elimination of alcohol and drug abuse. The group works with campuses in taking a close look at policy, education, enforcement, and assessment of alcohol-related crime and damage. According to Koons, OWU will receive $500 from the group for holding the Town Meeting. The money is to be spent trying to eliminate alcohol abuse on campus and promoting alcohol education.

All are welcome to attend the meeting.