CSU considers sweeping alcohol policy

The Associated Press
Tuesday May 15, 2001

LONG BEACH — California State University, the nation’s largest public university system, is considering a sweeping alcohol policy for its 23 campuses following the drinking-related death of a student. 

The proposed policy, scheduled to be presented Tuesday at CSU’s governing board meeting, is believed to be the first in the nation to set systemwide policies – from controlling alcohol advertising on campus to enforcing existing drinking laws on and off campus. 

“It’s a time when young students for the first time in their lives feel more freedom than they every have. They want to go off and experiment with alcohol as if it were some college or university rite of passage,” CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed said Monday. “We need to do everything we can ... to promote healthy choices for students and try to overcome this culture” of college drinking. 

If approved, the policy would require CSU campuses, which enroll more than 350,000 students, to begin enforcing the policy in the fall. 

General recommendations include campuses developing treatment programs, regularly reviewing state alcohol laws and notifying students of changes, banning alcohol advertising and products at campus events, offering awards and incentives to student organizations that raise funds from sources other than alcohol companies. 

The proposed policy also calls for early intervention and treatment of alcohol-related problems for students. 

It also would provide $1.1 million in funding to help campuses implement the policy. Currently, there is no systemwide funding for alcohol education, prevention and enforcement policies. 

“Our approach is not to say we are going to ban alcohol and believe that will solve the problem. It won’t,” said John D. Welty, president of California State University, Fresno, and chair of the alcohol policies committee. “We have to look at changing the campus culture, developing a guide for each of our campuses to follow.” 

To help implement the policies, the proposal calls for the creation at each campus of an alcohol advisory council, which would include faculty, staff, administrators, students and members of the community, including law enforcement. 

“This problem is so big that everybody has to help work on it. The law says if you’re not 21, you shouldn’t be able to buy alcoholic beverages. We need to enforce that business owners aren’t selling to students under 21,” Reed said. 

The chancellor called for a review of the campuses alcohol policies after Adrian Heideman died Oct. 7 when he tried to drink a bottle of brandy during a Pi Kappa Phi fraternity party. The California State University, Chico, freshman from Palo Alto had a blood-alcohol content of .37 percent, more than four times the legal limit at which a driver is considered intoxicated. 

At CSU’s San Diego campus, two fraternity-related incidents last year left two students hospitalized for drinking too much. 

The biggest obstacle, Reed said, will be overcoming the pervasive culture of drinking. 

“We start with their parents and with them when they visit the campus the first time. You continuously bombard them with it,” he said. 

Although students generally agreed an alcohol policy was needed, many believed it would do little to end underage college drinking. 

“I don’t think it will stop it. But I think it will give us better knowledge about being safer,” said Brendan Wonnacott, a 20-year-old student at CSU Sacramento. 

Vivian Brassel, 20, agreed. 

“I think regardless of the rules and regulations, people are going to do what they want to do,” said the CSU Sacramento junior. “The college party experience is what a lot of us come here for. ... But it is a part of the overall experience.” 



• Limit vendor advertising at campus events. 

•Limit alcohol industry funding of student-sponsored events. 

•Provide an education program to make students aware of the risks of illegal and irresponsible drinking. 

•Distribute campus alcohol-related regulations and policies to all students. 

•Enforce campus rules as well as state and local drinking laws. 

•Partner with local law enforcement agencies to enforce drinking laws. 

•Create an advisory council to examine issues of alcohol use by students. 

•Institute annual alcohol policy orientation program for campus organization advisers and student officers. 

•Institute alcohol policy training for all campus peer advisers and residential staff. 

•Adopt new student and parent orientation programs. 

•Adopt orientation programs for higher-risk students, such as fraternities, athletes and large residential campus populations. 

• Provide a systemwide grant writer to seek out possible funding to implement and maintain the policies