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Presidents Support Healthy Campus Initiative
All together, more than 30 colleges and universities were represented at the event, which featured a panel discussion with University of Hartford President Walter Harrison; Western Connecticut State University President James W. Schmotter; and Capital Community College President Calvin Woodland.
Harrison said that in a culture that overwhelmingly promotes drinking, a college president must set a tone to discourage drinking, but never forget what it is like to be a college student.
“Students have to learn that it’s okay not to drink and use,” said Harrison, “We must set activities to their hours and create student role models among their peers.”
Peter Rockholz, deputy commissioner of the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, said there are 1,700 campus deaths a year nationwide from alcohol-related causes, as drinking among young people has become a rite of passage. He thanked the college presidents for their work in trying to curb drinking on college campuses.
“I want to thank everyone for continuing to promote the health and safety of the next generation of Americans,” said Rockholz.
Valerie Lewis, commissioner of the state Department of Higher Education, said that she was grateful that in the busy lives of college presidents, they choose to be active in trying to curb alcohol abuse on their campuses.
“I am most pleased with the University of Hartford as no one has spoken out on this issue of concern more than Walter Harrison,” said Lewis.
Representatives from the colleges and universities were also presented with a Statewide Healthy Campus Initiative proclamation by Catherine Levasseur, a student at Central Connecticut State University. The proclamation honors the institutions' commitment to reduce occurrences of high-risk alcohol use on their campuses.
The initiative is part of a federally funded grant awarded to the Governor’s Office and administered by the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to reduce substance use and abuse among young adults on college campuses. It is a collaborative effort of Connecticut’s institutions of higher education, the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, the Department of Higher Education and the Governor’s Prevention Partnership.