The following was emailed to all undergraduates.
One year ago, we wrote to all undergraduates to express our concerns about high-risk alcohol consumption on our campus. Our frosh and transfer students might recall the provost speaking on the same topic at New Student Orientation shortly after their arrival on campus this fall.
While high-risk drinking is a long-standing issue on college campuses, the scope of the most serious consequences is perhaps less familiar. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, approximately 1,800 college students die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor-vehicle crashes. Fortunately, this has occurred rarely at Stanford, where we are unaware of any alcohol-related undergraduate deaths in the past two decades.
Perhaps this suggests our protective factors are strong. Yet as the two individuals at Stanford who are most directly responsible for your development and well-being, we remain deeply concerned. Survey and other data suggest that a substantial percentage of our undergraduates continue to consume alcohol at dangerously high rates. We are struck by the prevalence of binge drinking, the norms it creates, and the consequences. Students are regularly transported to the emergency department to be treated for alcohol poisoning. Fall quarter, an alarming number of students were found passed out alone outdoors after a night out.
We have been working to better understand the latest research on the acute and long-term consequences of high-intensity drinking among adolescents and young adults. There is, for example, a growing body of evidence to suggest that binge drinking in particular can cause persistent brain injury at the exact time in life when there is the absolute most to gain (or lose) in terms of education and growth. We cannot turn away from this, given we are here to provide the very best environment for your education.
With this in mind, we are preparing to re-engage campus in a thoughtful and comprehensive approach to lessen high-risk drinking. We know that no single initiative or policy will address the myriad factors to consider. Some of the work underway now includes the following:
There are two more items in particular where we are seeking student engagement:
In closing, we would like to thank all of you for your careful consideration of this very complex topic. We look forward to hearing from and working with you to make meaningful progress toward a healthier, safer and more socially vibrant campus.
Persis Drell, Provost
Susie Brubaker-Cole, Vice Provost for Student Affairs