During the next two weeks the Alcohol and Drug Task Force will hear presentations from different campus groups about the role and effects of alcohol and drug use on campus.
The task force will use the presentations to gain different perspectives and more information on alcohol and drug use on campus. "We'll be trying to collect information and make some sense out of it," Charlie Ross, director of the Counseling Center and chair of the task force, said.
Presentations will be delivered by the Academic Standing Committee, the Sexual Assault Support Team, Residential Life and Services, Judicial Board, the Office of Safety and Security, Human Resources, the Counseling Center and Health Services.
The task force was formed last spring and charged by President Nancy Dye with the job of studying the role and effects of alcohol and drug use on campus. A one-year task force, it is composed of 11 students, faculty and staff. At the end of this year, the task force will present Dye with a report and recommendations. Dye will also attend the presentations.
The committee has met biweekly since the beginning of the year, and spent its first meetings "trying to define the reasons for its existence more clearly," Ross said.
Ross said the information gained from the presentations might steer the committee's direction throughout the course of the year, point to on-campus needs in terms of drug and alcohol education and reveal that the committee needs to gather information from different sources.
Junior Josh Kaye, a new member of the task force, said the presentations are geared toward finding out what the negative effects of drugs are. Kaye said the task force is trying to assess when drugs and alcohol are damaging to campus life. "We're looking for how abuse of substances negatively affects the campus," Kaye said.
Ross said that the committee has already discussed Oberlin's drug and alcohol education programs and determined that the campus has a need for such programs - programs, Ross said, that Oberlin currently lacks. He also said the committee is interested in studying whether Oberlin is, as an institution, making responsible choices and asking questions such as, "What are we doing to help people who have problems? What are we doing to promote healthy life choices?"
Ross said that different perspectives about drug and alcohol use are being listened to "even though the task froce does have to concern itself with abuse and [its] negative effects.] He said that those who support "healthy choices" - students who choose not to drink or to drink in moderation - will be heard, as well as those who think using drugs and alcohol is a positive thing. "There are people who think [using drugs and alcohol] is a good thing to do. The people who take that position want it to be understood," Ross said. He also said, "That's not our central focus. The task force is aware that there are different ways of looking at the subject."
Kaye said that he as a task force member wants to make sure that the issues being examined by the task force are those of education, not prevention. "Personally," Kaye said, "I think it's important when talking about drug and alcohol issues that the issues is one of use versus abuse, not prevention."
Kaye said, "I see as my particular fetish that the [task force] not be degraded to discussing what drugs are harmful, but what patterns of abuse need to be discussed."
Though the presentations are not open to the public, Ross said that later in the year he expects forums where the public can attend and discuss to be held. "[The presentations] are seen as a forum to educate the task force, not the public," Ross said. He also said, "If someone really wanted to attend I think that would be permitted."
Both Ross and Kaye said they wouldn't be surprised if one of the task force's recommendations is to continue such a committee beyond this year.
Copyright © 1996, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 125, Number 8; November 8, 1996
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