State Grant to Help Local Colleges with Substance Abuse Prevention
Keene State College and Franklin Pierce University hope to improve the way they tackle alcohol and prescription drug abuse on their campuses thanks to a two-year state grant.
The N.H. Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services awarded a $571,617 grant to Cheshire County on behalf of Franklin Pierce, Keene State, Monadnock Voices for Prevention and Anna Adachi-Mejia, a doctor and professor at Dartmouth College. Teams at both schools will work with community partners to develop, implement and evaluate strategies to prevent problematic drinking and drug use.
Gov. Maggie Hassan and the Executive Council signed off on the grant early December. The grant will pay for a coordinator to work out of the county offices who will split his or her time between the two campuses, said Christine Burke, director of the Center for Health and Wellness at Keene State. The colleges will use strategies that have already been shown to be successful in other communities and then test whether those methods will work with the colleges’ populations.
Jim Earle, vice president of student affairs at Franklin Pierce University, said the two schools with accomplish a lot more by working together and sharing information. Representatives from both schools will attend training together and there will be monthly meetings during the two-year grant period, Burke said.
The long-term goal is for the schools to develop a campus-wide strategy for prevention. Nobody has a quick fix for college students who drink too much, and so this was a great opportunity for the two schools to analyze the issue, collect some data and see what will work. The grant requires several different groups, such as community organizations and law enforcement agencies, to collaborate and share resources, Burke said.
There are three components of the grant project: interviewing community members and students to discuss what is working in this area, expanding an alcohol prevention and counseling program that’s already being used, and using social media to send messages to target college audiences about the risks of substance abuse.
Earle called the grant “an enormous gift to combat a universal problem”. “Alcohol and drug abuse is arguably the most significant challenge administrators handle on today’s college campuses”, he said. “If you talk to a college dean and they tell you otherwise, they’re either not being truthful with you or perhaps are ignorant.”
Franklin Pierce already has several prevention efforts, but this is a chance to exchange ideas, look at the issue through different lenses, and make some decisions based on the information they collect, he said. “It’s something that keeps you up at night,” he said. “Saturday night you go to bed and you think, ‘What’s going to happen tonight?’ It’s just a very difficult problem to confront.”