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However, there is another story unfolding, as well. The recent activities on the part of the student, faculty and administrative members of the Working Group on Alcohol Abuse have brought to the forefront a proactive, responsible and comprehensive set of initiatives to reduce alcohol abuse at Penn. How can we, as a community, gauge our effectiveness in reaching these goals? Clearly, a long-term, multi-faceted approach is needed to capture all of the changes that occur as a result of such comprehensive programming. These initiatives stem from two direct goals to support the healthy behaviors of the majority of Penn students and to work collaboratively to reduce the harm associated with the high-risk drinking behaviors of a small percentage of students. On behalf of University President Judith Rodin and Provost Robert Barchi, I am convening a group of students, faculty and staff to develop a set of assessments and measurements designed to help us take an in-depth look at our efforts to curb alcohol abuse at Penn. This group is comprised of representatives from the Undergraduate Assembly, InterFraternity Council, PanHellenic Council, Drug and Alcohol Resource Team, Office of Student Conduct, Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs, faculty, College Houses, graduate students, etc. and will be working collaboratively with the Student Affairs Committee. Each of these members has intimate knowledge of the steps Penn has taken to address the issue of alcohol abuse. The specific tools we will use to gauge the effectiveness of our new alcohol policy and initiatives will include: · Administering yearly a national instrument, the CORE, which will provide a comprehensive picture of student behaviors related to alcohol and other drug use. This survey allows an institution to compare itself to similar schools. · A complimentary institutional survey will be used to determine the perceptions and attitudes of administrators, faculty and staff regarding alcohol issues. · Focus groups will help us understand how students feel about the commitment Penn has made to ensure a healthy culture. · Finally, we will be gathering anonymous data involving episodes of alcohol abuse and misuse from sources including police reports, incident reports in the College Houses and those received by the Office of Student Conduct. One single piece of data, such as visits to the emergency room, cannot accurately portray the campus drinking culture or the extent to which we are successful in creating a low-risk environment. The small percentage of students who engage in high-risk drinking certainly should, and will, be provided with resources to help change their behaviors. While it is important to track this data to detect trends, these incidents must be viewed in a larger context and interpreted along with the other survey data we will accumulate. The efforts of the Working Group on Alcohol Abuse should be applauded. Their work demonstrates how the entire community is trying to ensure that Penn students enjoy a healthy, safe environment that places less emphasis on heavy drinking and more on personal responsibility and moderation. In the end, it is important to evaluate the successes of these endeavors on a long-term basis. Shocking headlines of hospital visits do not tell the whole story of the emerging culture change at Penn.

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