July 9, 2013
Dear Stanford Parent,
We write to share Stanford’s efforts to educate students about alcohol issues and we look forward to your partnership with the university in ensuring the health and safety of your son or daughter. We encourage you to talk to them early and often about drinking.
There are many groups at Stanford reaching out to you at this point. We thank you for taking the time to read this important letter.
Access to alcohol
Although the legal drinking age in California is 21, access to alcohol can be a reality of life at Stanford, just as it is at colleges and universities nationwide. The good news is that surveys show most Stanford students drink moderately to not at all. But every year, a number of undergraduates are involved in high-risk drinking incidents. Freshmen are particularly at risk. Many have had little experience with alcohol and are unprepared for the freedoms of college.
Research shows that by having a frank, face-to-face conversation with your student, you can have a positive effect on your son or daughter’s approach to alcohol once they arrive.
Here are five things we want you to know about Stanford’s programs and policies:
- Students are expected to abide by university policies and California laws. These can be found at /alcohol/policy
- Before they arrive on campus, students will be required to take an online alcohol education course that stresses individual and collective responsibility.
- Stanford has an Office of Alcohol Policy and Education that oversees policy, education and alcohol-free social programming, called Cardinal Nights, which are alcohol-free events (http://studentaffairs.stanford.edu/alcohol/cardinalnights) designed so that no student feels isolated by a decision to abstain from alcohol.
- 24/7 support is available in the residence halls from student residence advisors (RAs) and student peer health educators, as well as professional residence deans and academic directors. The Vaden Student Health Center offers professional counseling, medication management services and health promotion (http://vaden.stanford.edu). Stanford RA training around the issue of alcohol abuse is intensive and focused on student safety.
- A Parent Alcohol Advisory Group, co-chaired by Ralph Castro, director of Stanford’s Office of Alcohol Policy and Education, and Sally Lannin, a parent of three Stanford students, serves as a conduit between the university and the parent community on alcohol issues.
Negative impacts of drinking
We encourage you to discuss the negative impacts of drinking with your student. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism offers this advice for parents: http://www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov/NIAAACollegeMaterials/collegeFactSheetForParents.aspx.
Here are three specific points to emphasize:
- Drinking hard liquor in the form of shots is dangerous and can lead to alcohol poisoning and death. We know your son or daughter is smart, and we believe he or she will respond to the startling facts about consuming large amounts of hard liquor over a short period. Read more here: http://studentaffairs.stanford.edu/alcohol/aod/alcoholpoisoning
- Excessive drinking can—and does—result in arrest. Stanford students are not immune from prosecution and are commonly cited for a) being a minor in possession of alcohol, b) being intoxicated in public (this involves being arrested and transported to jail) and c) possession of false identification.
- Incidents involving regretted sexual encounters, sexual misconduct, sexual assault and violations of campus community standards often involve excessive alcohol use. More information on Stanford’s policies and educational efforts on these matters can be found here: http://studentaffairs.stanford.edu/sara
We believe firmly that if you talk with your student about drinking before they come to Stanford, you can help us in creating a campus culture of personal responsibility and good decision making.
But don’t stop there. After your son or daughter has been at Stanford, continue the conversation. Ask: “What did you do last night?” “What fun things are you finding to do?” “Tell me about your friends.” The answers will help reveal if your student is feeling isolated and, thus, vulnerable. In our experience, parents are best able to detect if something is amiss.
Thank you for your partnership in this effort. Curbing irresponsible use of alcohol is a high priority for Stanford. Please contact the Stanford Office of Alcohol Policy & Education at 650-725-5947 if you need more information or have questions or concerns.
Vice Provost for Student Affairs
Ralph J. Castro
Co-Chair, Stanford Parent Alcohol Advisory Group
Associate Dean of Student Affairs & Director, Stanford Office of Alcohol Policy & Education
Sally P. Lannin ‘78
Co-Chair, Stanford Parent Alcohol Advisory Group, and Parent (’10, ’11, ’13)